Life campaigners won a High Court challenge today - effectively halting cloning research. History was made earlier this year when Britain became the first country in the world to permit therapeutic cloning. Permission was to be given under licence controlled by strict guidelines, in order to prevent someone trying to produce a copy of a human being. But it allowed the removal of cells from human embryos for a short period for other research. The Pro-Life Alliance's challenge had already led to a suspension of the licensing process in January. It won the argument today that the law on cloning was flawed because it derived from changes made to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990. Professor Jack Scarisbrick, Chairman of pro-life charity LIFE, said: "The government, has a lot of explaining to do. They categorically assured MPs and peers that cell nuclear replacement (CNR), the technique used in cloning of all kinds - whether "therapeutic" or "full birth" cloning - could be licensed by the HFE Authority and would therefore be lawful. They said this despite repeated warnings that this was not so." "We said again and again that the HFEA could license only research using embryos created by the fusion of sperm and ovum and hence could not license research using embryos produced by CNR. And since only research licensed by the HFEA is lawful, research using CNR embryos would be unlawful. Today's ruling confirms this. "Health Secretary Yvette Cooper, following the now discredited Donaldson Committee, misled Parliament. "The Statutory Instrument introduced in December 2000 and passed in January this year, will now have to be scrapped, and the 'retrospective' House of Lords Select Committee on stem cell research now has no remit. The government was warned this was the case by prolife groups and eminent lawyers such as Lord Rawlinson, former Attorney-General, and Lord Brennan, former chairman of the Bar, but ignored their counsel. "LIFE calls upon the government, as a matter of urgency, to introduce a Bill to outlaw all cell nuclear replacement, for whatever purpose, and to encourage research using stem cells taken from adults, which offers much better prospects for conquering diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc. It was never necessary to go down the cloning road."
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