First human embryo cloned despite legal challenge and UN ban

 Scientists at the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life led by Professor Alison Murdoch announced on Thursday that they have successfully created their first human clones. They were awarded a licence by the UK fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (the HFEA) last August. However, an application for judicial review of the licence was lodged with the High Court on the grounds that the HFEA had unlawfully withheld information about the licence and that the licence was unlawfully granted and was invalid from the start. The judicial review was brought last November in the name of Peng Voong, who works as Public Policy Analyst for the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF). This January, the High Court allowed the legal challenge to proceed to a hearing. A date is expected to be set down shortly. If the High Court accepts Mr Voong's arguments, it will revoke the licence and rule that the activities of the Newcastle scientists were unlawful from the beginning. Earlier this year, the United Nations voted in favour of banning all forms of human cloning. Andrea Williams, Barrister and Public Policy Officer of the LCF said: "It is a matter of serious concern that despite the UN ban on human cloning, the legal challenge by Peng Voong and the level of controversy surrounding cloning research Professor Murdoch and her team continued with the project. We are hopeful that the High Court will appreciate the serious implications of what Professor Murdoch has done as it strikes at the heart of our humanity and our respect for life and human dignity." A spokesman for LIFE echoed this view saying: "What has happened should make all decent people ashamed of being British. Cloning has been banned by many civilised countries such as the USA, Germany and Italy and earlier this year the United Nations approved a declaration urging all member states to outlaw all forms of cloning. We have crossed a moral Rubicon. We are witnessing a new and lamentable form of manipulation and trivialisation of human life. "Of course we are regaled with all the usual promises about curing terrible diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. We all want to find cures for them. But this end does not justify the means. Human beings should not be manufactured to supply 'spare parts' for others. "In truth the quest for human cloning has little to do with curing or therapy, despite what the enthusiasts claim. It is about power, breaking moral barriers, Nobel prizes. It is runaway science. A morally healthy society should reject all forms of cloning. We believes we must distinguish the hype surrounding cloning and embryonic stem cell research from the reality that is adult stem cell research. Adult stem cells are already being successfully used to treat an ever-growing number of human conditions. This is the real way forward towards that medical revolution which the cloners say is just around the corner.

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