The Pirbright Institute has accepted the charges brought against the Institute for breaches of its Specified Animals Pathogens Order (SAPO) licence issued by Defra. The prosecution was conducted by the HSE who act as agents for Defra for these purposes. The Institute was fined £22,000. No issue of human health was involved
The incidents that led to the breaches showed that certain Institute processes and actions had fallen short of the standards that public, partners and the Institute itself expects. The Institute pleaded guilty to the charges, accepts full responsibility and apologises for the failure to comply with SAPO requirements. The incidents did not cause any release of virus.
The Institute reported the breaches as soon as it became aware of the issue, undertook an internal enquiry which resulted in revised procedures to prevent any reoccurrence and stopped all similar work. Similar work will not be undertaken again until there is complete agreement with HSE and Defra on the procedures to be used.
The Trustee Board of the Institute has, with the support of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as Pirbright’s strategic funder, instigated an independent scrutiny into arrangements for meeting regulatory requirements in connection with its SAPO licence. This review will be conducted by a panel independent of the Institute and its recommendations will be made directly to the Board. Should the independent review find that any additional actions are necessary, these will be undertaken.
The Board is also seeking to hold a meeting with senior officials from HSE as soon as possible to confirm that the Institute is adopting all measures required to ensure its health and safety and biosecurity regimes are of the highest standards and are legally compliant. The Pirbright Institute continues to work closely with HSE and Defra to ensure that the SAPO licence requirements are met.