By Charlie Parlour-Hoode
In 2012 one of the most shocking and disturbing court cases of recent times made the headlines. Alan Bamford, a genetic scientist of some considerable repute, was found guilty of conducting illegal experiments with stolen human embryos and a range of different animal embryos. After a Police raid at his farm just outside Basingstoke Police found what was described as “A video nasty turned reality” in his home laboratory, including a number of “living” human/animal hybrids in incubator’s he’d stolen from his former employers. One of the hybrids, nicknamed “Colin”, was a seven month-old half human half piglet that was being fed intravenously and was, to all intents and purposes, alive. Alan had quite literally taken his work home with him but had taken matters into his own hands, way beyond what was expected of him at work. While the story of human/animal hybrids did made the news, Alan’s court case was held behind closed doors after the Judge ruled a complete media ban was absolutely necessary given the shocking details of the case that were “not fit for public consumption”. While we know what was found at Alan’s farm, we have never seen anything that the prosecution or defence teams produced for the case. Alan was given a lifetime gagging order to add to his life sentence in prison. However, in a remarkable twist I have learned that Alan may well be trying to tell his side of the story through a series of Children’s books that publisher HarperCollins have agreed to release. Alan was denied an appeal three times and has taken this drastic and sickening step in order to fund one final appeal attempt, while an anonymous source at HarperCollins has suggested that interest in his books prior to their release could well make him a millionaire if pre-sales are any indicator. It’s likely that this shocking story might yet have another sickening twist.
While the full breakdown of what was found in Alan’s home laboratory has never been made public, we do know that Alan had attempted well over 100 different “splicing” experiments between human embryos and animal embryos. While this had been thought impossible a generation ago and had been considered the stuff of horror movies, the Daily Mail broke their story after a tip-off and a huge investigation took place, one that eventually arrived at Alan’s remote country home. Over 30 frozen “spliced” embryos were found in Alan’s lab freezer along with at least half a dozen growing experiments that were considered “alive”. A Police leak, which was never found, led to a single picture of “Colin”, the half human/half pig being leaked to the press. The decision was made at Government level to destroy “Colin” humanely which led to an outcry from pro-life campaigners and religious fundamentalists demanding that the death sentence be brought back as Alan’s sin was considered above even God’s law by some. Pro-life campaigners believed it was far too late in the pig-child’s development to abort it but Government officials believed that to allow it to live would set a dangerous precedent and maybe encourage more people to try their own experiments. Online marketplace eBay was forced to remove a number of items that were being sold to assist with “home cloning” experiments and Amazon pledged to report anyone selling similar items to the Police. Alan has never been granted permission to make any form of statement to the public, which has angered free-speech activists around the world. It’s no understatement to say that Alan’s actions stirred a worldwide hornet’s nest so it’s hardly a surprise his movements, his current location and details of the case have never been made public.
It would seem that Alan has been busy while in prison and has produced six Children’s books as part of a series he’s called “The Super-Animals of Lord Whittington’s Zoo”, each of which features a story told from the point of view of one of a hybrid creature. Book One tells the story of “Nigel”, who is a half horse/half seagull hybrid, who saves the farm from an impending ecological disaster. Book Two tells the story of “Anna”, the half cow/half giraffe, who adopts a litter of puppies much to the anger of her cow and giraffe families. while at first these might seem like heart-warming and moralistic stories, the authorities are concerned that Alan might be making an attempt to tell the world what he was doing in his home laboratory for years. In order to find out the truth I contacted Alan’s family and they communicated with him on my behalf and after some considerable effort and risk I managed to secure a visit along with his solicitor, who hid a small recording device into his briefcase for me. Since I started covering this story it has been my belief that whatever you think of Alan’s work, he has a right to tell his story and I am delighted that he agreed to tell it to me. I have been asked to make it crystal clear that the interview you’re about to read is published entirely at my own risk and I am aware of the potential legal ramifications for myself and for Alan but I feel his is a story that we should hear, as a cautionary tale if nothing else. I trust that the law-makers and law-enforcers of our great country will appreciate this, especially as Alan is serving 25 years in prison and couldn’t continue his experiments even if he wanted to.
Me: “There are hundreds of questions I could start with, but I think the obvious one is to ask you if you regret carrying out the experiments at your home laboratory that have, ultimately, led to your incarceration?”
Alan: “Well firstly can I begin by thanking you for coming. I’m sure many people have questions for me and I’m happy to answer them. Do I have regrets? I only regret that I am in prison and cannot continue my valuable work in attempting to find cures for diseases that affect millions of people the world over.”
Me: “And what about the experiments you did at your farm, Colin in particular. You were obviously trying to create life but why? What sort of life did you think a half human/half pig could possibly have in our world? What about the moral questions about what you were doing?”
Alan: “Well I didn’t call her Colin; it was a she, not a he. I didn’t give her a name, but she had a number which was #31. My hopes for #31 were that she would eventually be able to think and talk like a human, but resemble a pig. My hope was to create a kind of scientific theme park where my creations could live and roam freely, talk to the public and be a living demonstration of directed evolution. I hoped to educate them as I would a human while allowing them to spend time with their animal relatives too, to create an articulate message for the benefit of vegans such as myself. You probably think nothing of having a bacon sandwich, but what if you could go somewhere that a pig could tell you what it feels like to spend a life on death row, being fattened up for slaughter so they can end up on your plate? Animals have no rights in our world and yet they have just as much right to be here as we do. Like us they have evolved perfectly and have survived all the tests nature has thrown at them, but for as long as we know we have farmed and butchered animals. The slaughter must come to an end.”
Me: “So your experiments were done for a genuine cause? No wonder you were gagged. Is that why you have created the “Super Animals” in your children’s books?”
Alan: “Absolutely. If a child can actually become friends with animals, and communicate with them, they’re going to grow up respecting all animals. That was all I wanted and that is the sole purpose of my books – to make children think before they eat an animal they know and respect.”
Me: “I completely understand, but you stole human embryos, human sperm and unfertilized human eggs. That’s illegal, no matter how you look at it. How did you justify that to yourself?”
Alan: “I did it for the greater good. I don’t expect people to understand, but desperate times call for desperate measures. We are happy to use science to make bigger chickens to eat, but we’re not happy to use science to protect animals from us? I have a big problem with that. I took very few samples from very large sources; nobody was going to miss them and nobody noticed anyway. When you look at what I was trying to accomplish, for the greater good of life on the planet, not to mention the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle, I don’t think anyone can say I did anything other than perhaps skim a little off the top here and there. #31 was living and breathing, she was alive and she was almost ready to start taking nourishment orally and she was killed, like all the other animals are, needlessly. If you want to take about wrongdoing you should start there, not with what I did.”
Me: “You upset a great many people though, from religious groups to human and animal rights activists who have accused you of “playing God”. Some people consider what you were doing as the work of the devil, which may be a little extreme but you have to see that there were always going to be moral objections to what you were doing, not to mention matters of legality you had clearly decided to ignore.”
Alan: “Initially there would’ve been issues with regard to the moral and legal status of my creations, but that would just have forced us to look at how we regard humans and animals. We are a barbaric species; we kill our own for a variety of nonsensical reasons, such as money, power, gender, religion and in some cultures we kill our own daughters if we believe they are not virgins when they marry. What if someone came along and did something that changed the way we look at life, all life, forever? I’d say that was a good thing. All the boundaries we currently know and understand about human life, animal life, would’ve been changed forever. We’d have to start taking dignity seriously again. That’s why I wrote the books for children; all my creations are inspirational figures and their status as hybrid creatures is secondary to their personalities, their morals, the causes they believe in. The hybrids are animal heroes and they do more to unite animals and humans than anyone has ever done.”
Me: “Aren’t you assuming, though, that your hybrids will have a human-like intellect? surely that would not be the case, even with #31?”
Alan: “Well yes, there’s no way of knowing that and had #31 not been killed we’d have been able to find out the answer that. At worst they would surely have the intellect of a child and there was no reason to think motor function would’ve been impaired, it might even have been enhanced. We’ll never know, at least not in the case of #31. As for my animal super heroes, obviously in order to appeal to children they had to behave like humans, talk like humans and reason like humans. Hopefully the books will do some good even if my experiments have not been able to. I understand there are ethical standards to maintain, but I also understand we ignore them when it suits us. I chose to ignore them for a greater good.”
Me: “Onto your books then, the reaction from the public has been considerable and there are many factions, from parents who don’t want their children’s development linked to someone who was playing with the laws of nature, in their opinion, to those who feel that you are simply attempting to show you have learned from your mistakes and that the books, which are not violent and convey many positive messages about cooperation, friendship and morality, should not be regarded any differently despite you authoring them. Your publisher believes that they are going to be a tremendous success which the Church of England has repeatedly slammed the publisher and is looking at legal options to stop them reaching bookshelves in the UK. What are your thoughts?”
Alan: “If the Church of England has a problem with the content of my books then they’re hypocrites, given that the story of Noah and human genocide is one of many bloody stories from the Bible. You won’t find genocide in any of my books, and none of my human characters will ever sacrifice a son to their God. I can’t promise there won’t be talking snakes, admittedly. If their argument is a moralistic one, they’re hypocrites in my opinion. As for parents, do they really think their children will have any idea who I am? They won’t have my name on them, after all, I’m using the pseudonym “Michelle Banks” which is about as benign a name as I could think of. I’m not stupid, you know.”
Me: “I didn’t know you were using an assumed identity, that’s incredibly useful to know. I should ask, however, if your reason for making the books was genuinely just to continue you animal rights activism or as a way of generating money for your appeal?”
Alan: “I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t want to get out of here. The courts essentially created a new crime for me to be guilty of and treated me as if I had murdered someone in cold blood, which could not be further from the truth. If I raise enough money for an appeal then great, and if I get out, even better. If not, there’s something for me to live off if I make it out before I die. I had the idea years ago but I didn’t have the time to do anything about it. Now I have the time, it’s better I make use of it.”
Me: “So your intention was never to reveal to the public the truth behind what you were doing in your laboratory, though a different medium?”
Alan: “Of course not and most people wouldn’t care about the science, they’d just be interested in the experiments that went wrong, or if I’d had to deal with some malevolent zombie-like beast. The truth is, these things either work or they don’t. Most didn’t, a few did, but those that did were killed by the same people who judged me guilty of crimes against humanity. The irony of that is not lost on me.”
Me: “Finally, it’s possible that after I publish this article you may find your gag order lifted, and I really hope that’s the case. Is there anything you’d like me to share with my readers that you would rather get out in front of, anything that you’d probably rather didn’t get out but if it was to you’d like to be one step ahead of the headline writers?”
Alan: “Only one thing. Humans in most parts of the world have a special relationship with dogs. My first thought was to create a half human/half dog hybrid. It didn’t work. Then I thought to myself, what if the first step was not such a drastic creation, but something more subtle. So, I was working on the possibility of growing a dog’s tail that could be grafted onto a baby and then look at ways to alter the dna of a fertilised human egg so that a baby could grow a tail of its own. I will admit I did use certain channels that were open to me in the developing world to look into the possibility of adopting a baby for that purpose. I’m sure a few people would be shocked by that but I must stress I never actually got that far as #31 had proven to be far more resilient than I’d expected and became the sole focus of my attention for several months before my arrest. Other than that, no, I stand by everything I did and my reasons for doing everything I did.”
Three weeks after my interview with Alan the first three of his books went on general sale with little or no publicity. HarperCollins printed an initial run of 100,000 for each book and made digital versions available too. After two weeks less than 300 books/ebooks had been sold in the UK and only 14 in the USA. The books were removed from shelves six weeks after release with less than 350 copies sold in all formats combined. There has been no official comment from HarperCollins on what their future plans are for Alan’s series but it seems likely that he’ll need to raise money for an appeal elsewhere.
A spokesperson for the Church of England has described the boycotting of Alan’s books as “a victory for good old fashioned Christian values” but has warned that any further attempts to publish his works will be met with “considerable opposition”.