The High Court today refused the Christian Legal Centre and CORE permission to judicially review the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s decision to grant research licences which involves creating animal human hybrids. The main concern in this case was that the rule of law was circumvented by the HFEA’s decision to pre-empt Parliament who had not yet decided whether this kind of research should be allowed. CLC had argued that in a civilized society it is vital that no individual or public body is above the rule of law.
Mrs Justice Dobbs ruled that the challenge was not arguable because the HFEA had acted within their powers when granting the licences. She further held that the decision by the HFEA, following their own public consultation, was not irrational because proper consideration had been given to the issues surrounding the grant of the licences.
CORE and CLC argued that under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 the definition of a human embryo prohibited the creation of animal human hybrids (because they are not human) and that even if they were not prohibited, the licenses were neither necessary nor desirable in light of recent developments with adult stem cell research where the real progress in finding cures to serious illnesses is being made.
During the course of her Judgment, Mrs Justice Dobbs said it was possible for a human animal hybrid to be defined under section 1 of the 1990 Act as a human embryo and what is human depends on the facts understood by scientific knowledge at the time – a statement described by the CLC as “chilling” and showing “little regard for the special status and dignity of what it means to be human”.