Confessions at Pirbright

UK - Sir Bill Callaghan has today published his review of the regulatory framework for handling of animal pathogens in the United Kingdom.
calendar icon 13 December 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The Review, commissioned by the Secretary of State Hilary Benn, was asked to take forward recommendations made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in their report on biosecurity at the Pirbright site in 2007, and Professor Spratt's review of safety of UK facilities handling FMD virus. In particular Sir Bill Callaghan was asked to consider:

  • Any changes needed to clarify and strengthen the regulatory framework for animal pathogens, to bring it in line with those for human pathogens;
  • Any steps needed to ensure independence and clarity on the separate roles and responsibilities of funders, regulators, customers and the institutions themselves; and
  • Any steps needed to provide clearer lines of accountability, inspection protocols and responses to non compliance.

The Callaghan Review recommends a three-phased approach to implement a number of changes to strengthen this regulatory framework in the UK.

The main change would be to move to a model where use of both animal and human pathogens is governed by a single regulatory framework, with Defra passing the responsibility for regulation of these pathogens to the HSE, as a single, independent body with the appropriate expertise and experience in the field.

Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, said:

"I fully accept all the recommendations made by Sir Bill Callaghan in this review. In particular, I agree that Defra should not continue as regulator of laboratories handling of animal pathogens. This is because of the clear need to have a single independent regulatory body.

"I very much welcome this report and am grateful to Sir Bill for this thorough investigation."

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