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Undercover Investigations

It is a truism that nearly all cruelty to animals happens behind closed doors. Freedom of information laws and other techniques can help lift the lid but unquestionably the most effective way is via undercover investigations. Undertaken properly, they can be hugely beneficial in advancing animal protection. An image is worth a thousand words and video footage hard to dispute.

Undercover investigations come in many shapes and forms, ranging from placing an employee with a hidden camera for an extended time, leaving a camera on site for a short period, gathering evidence on a permitted visit and trailing vehicles.

Each involves a range of complex legal issues, including confidentiality, libel, trespass, copyright and data protection. A targeted company may allege that a criminal offence has been committed. Inevitably, undercover investigations carry risks, but they can be minimised. For example, it is vital to identify prior to launch the public interest in information being available, because that can represent a defence to a breach of confidentiality action. Factual assertions should only be made where they are demonstrably true.

We have advised on numerous investigations, here and abroad, including animal experiments, the fur trade, live transport and intensive farming and would be happy to assist.

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