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Badger Trust legal challenge over monitoring of badger cull to be heard by Court of Appeal

The Badger Trust will take its legal challenge over the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to the Court of Appeal on Thursday 9 October.

This follows a hearing on 11 September where the Vice President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal agreed that the Badger Trust had a real prospect of success in its appeal.

The Court of Appeal will be asked by the Badger Trust to find that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Elizabeth Truss, has unlawfully failed to put in place an Independent Expert Panel to monitor and analyse the results of the continued culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends that the use of such a Panel to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation was promised by the Secretary of State while she is still considering whether to roll-out culls to other areas, and there is no lawful reason for the Secretary of State to resile from that promise. Without such a Panel, there can be no proper independent assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision could be taken to continue with further culls around the country.

Professor Tim Coulson (member of the 2013 Independent Expert Panel) who spoke out against the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls at a debate hosted by the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild at the Labour Party Conference, welcomed the Court of Appeal hearing saying:

"The Independent Expert Panel's report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP's recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls."

Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild commented on the Court of Appeal hearing saying:

"The refusal of DEFRA Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire is a national disgrace.

“The Government assured us that the badger cull would be carried out more humanely this year, but within a week of it starting, Secret World Wildlife Rescue reported receiving a dead badger from the Somerset cull zone which had been shot in the abdomen.  In the opinion of their consultant veterinary surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Mullineaux MRCVS, the shot had clearly not been on target and would have been unlikely to result in the badger’s immediate death. We can be certain that this is not an isolated case and many other badgers are being killed by incompetent marksmen in similar ways, which is cruel and unacceptable.

“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent whilst NFU contract gunmen move though our countryside at night attempting to kill badgers despite serious concerns regarding the level of training, monitoring and scrutiny. It is the view of the Badger Trust that Elizabeth Truss is acting unlawfully by stating at the Tory Party Conference that she will make a decision on the national roll out of the badger cull prior to the General Election, without any independent monitoring of the 2014 culling operation.

“I look forward to the Badger Trust putting this legal challenge before the Court of Appeal on 9 October 2014".

Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust  Tel:  07876 596233
Jack Reedy Badger Trust Media Adviser  Tel: 07751 731107 / 01564 783129

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