Tuesday, October 18, 2005

PETA can show video, but can't infiltrate one firm's lab

An animal-welfare group that accused a New Jersey-based biomedical company of abusing monkeys after a spy shot videos at a company lab has agreed to not infiltrate the company's operations for five years.

In deal made public Monday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will continue to be allowed to show a video of what the organization claims is mistreatment of monkeys in the Vienna, Va., lab of Covance Co.

Mary Beth Sweetland, director of research and investigation for Norfolk, Va.-based PETA, called the Oct. 5 deal "a complete victory."

"Covance tried to stifle the video that we took in the laboratory showing monkeys being choked and strangled in its labs and failed," she said.

The video is posted at a PETA Web site.

"This resolution achieves our key goals of the lawsuit: to obtain a ban on infiltration and to demonstrate that Covance will not tolerate such unlawful acts by those who seek to block important biomedical research," James Lovett, a Covance lawyer, said in a written statement. "The strength of our case enable us to achieve these goals quickly via this settlement."

In a lawsuit filed in June, Covance attempted to force PETA to hand over all copies of notes and videos made by spy Lisa Leitten. PETA has agreed to hand over the notes and footage but was allowed to keep showing the video now on the Web site.

Covance had accused PETA and Leitten of committing fraud, conspiring to harm its business and violating a nondisclosure agreement Leitten signed when she began her 11-month stint as a primate technician at the Virginia lab in April 2004. The company said PETA had launched "vile disinformation campaigns against pharmaceutical research companies."

As part of the agreement, Leitten also agreed not to infiltrate any commercial animal research firms. Sweetland said that part will be easy: Leitten does not want to spy again.

Story here.

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