A High Court judge has given campaigners leave to bring a judicial review against the Home Office over an East Riding beagle farm.
Cruelty Free International (CFI) issued proceedings in September over B&K’s plans to extend its facilities at Grimston, without the dogs being given access to outdoor runs.
B&K was given permission to build a new breeding unit on appeal earlier this year, despite protests.
CFI claims the decision by the Home Office to grant an exemption allowing B&K not to provide runs violates EU law and if they had not granted it then the recent appeal “may well have been rejected.”
The exemption was granted on the grounds that the runs would represent a health hazard to the laboratory animals and potentially to staff.
Mr Justice Blake, sitting in the High Court of Justice, found the proposed grounds of challenge “arguable.” A full hearing is likely to take place next year.
Dr Katy Taylor, CFI’s Director of Science, said: “The Home Office had a duty to make full enquiries to engage in rigorous science and protect the welfare of the animals, but the Department has woefully failed to do this, appearing instead to seek to facilitate B&K’s planning appeal whatever the cost to the dogs.”
B&K spokesman David Gatehouse said their timetable would not be affected by the court proceedings and if ordered to provide runs they would do so, as they already had them on site.
He said the dogs had to be scrupulously husbanded to prevent cross-contamination with wildlife, including birds and their droppings and questioned what the campaigners were trying to achieve.
He said: “I don’t think it will happen, but if it does we will obviously comply with the law.
“We do feel strongly as do others that there is a contamination issue.”
He added: “We will get on with the job. Our timetable will not be affected.”
CFI said access to outdoor runs would at least improve the dogs’ physiological and psychological health.
The Home Office has not yet commented.