The Lawyers Christian Fellowship bring us up to date on one of the important issues of our time.

Andrea Williams
Andrea Williams

Peng Voong, a Public Policy Analyst for The Lawyers Christian Fellowship (LCF) has commenced judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the 'Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority' (HFEA), challenging their decision to grant a human cloning license to Professor Alison Murdoch at the Newcastle Fertility Centre.

'We have followed the development of this legal challenge and give it our full support', said 'Comment On Reproductive Ethics' (CORE) spokesman Elliott Cannell. 'We are particularly pleased that cloning will come back into the limelight in the same week as the United Nations deliberates on the issue', highlighting the UK's individual and isolated approach.

The case covers two areas of grave concern, (i) the refusal of the HFEA to discharge its public duty to provide reasonable information about its licensing procedures, and very significantly (ii) the legality of the license itself. The legal team has identified twelve separate grounds where they argue that the HFEA has failed to apply either the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryo Act or their own protocols.

It has never been the intention of the UK Parliament, liberal though our laws may be, to allow wholesale abuse of the human embryo states Mr Cannell. 'The embryo has always been accorded special status and can only be used in serious research which is deemed to be necessary or desirable. Our own analysis of the Newcastle cloning license when the lay summary appeared on the HFEA website, was that it was extremely vague and unscientific, an opinion which has been more than confirmed by subsequent developments'.

The HFEA will not reveal the names of those who sit on their licensing committee, or those who peer review the applications. It is impossible, therefore, for the public to know what is going on and to have any reassurance that concerns for the rights of the human embryo are being adequately addressed.

Andrea Williams, Public Policy officer of the LCF commented, 'no one is above the law, especially not public bodies which are created by the law to serve the public who fund them through their taxes. Public bodies must not only obey the law, they must also show that they are obeying the law. We trust that Mr Voong's legal action will be successful and that democracy will be better served as a result' CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.