Environment Secretary Owen Paterson faces a High Court appearance when his 'irrational' decision to hold the 2014 badger cull with no independent expert scrutiny is subjected to Judicial Review.
Badger cull High Court challenge goes ahead
2nd July 2014
The Badger Trust has been granted leave for a Judicial Review of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Natural England over their 'irrational' decision to conduct the 2013 badger cull with no independent expert scrutiny.
If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness.
In the Judicial Review, the Badger Trust will argue that Owen Paterson and Natural England have acted irrationally and unlawfully by failing to put in place any independent expert review process of the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014.
The Trust contends that a review - as provided in 2013 by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) - is needed to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation, and to ensure that the cull is properly conducted.
"Without this there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision to continue with further culls around the country", says the Trust's chief executive, Dominic Dyer.
IEP members support the challenge
The Badger Trust legal challenge has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls carried out in 2013.
"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", said IEP chairman Ranald Munro.
"If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 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."
Owen Paterson 'a national disgrace'
Dominic Dyer welcomed the judge's decision: "Owen Paterson has done all he can to prevent this Judicial Review case going to the High Court and he has failed.
"His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.
The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent, he added, so long as "contract gunmen" hired by the National Farmers Union "move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns" without any independent monitoring or scrutiny.
In the course of the 2013 badger culls many animals were wounded and suffered long painful deaths in an expensive and misconceived operation, he said, "which proved a complete and utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds."
Parliamentary briefing on 7th July
Welcoming the support of IEP members, Dyer added: "I look forward to joining Professor Tim Coulson in Parliament on Monday 7 July, when we will brief MPs from all parties on why we believe they should also give their support to the Badger Trust legal challenge."
Tim Coulson, Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford is an IEP member who has openly denounced Defra's decision to proceed with the 2014 badger cull with no expert independent scrutiny.
Dyer then called on the British Veterinary Association, which has so far been equivocal about the badger cull, "to show animal welfare and humaneness is their number one priority by supporting the Badger Trust in the High Court."
More about badgers on The Ecologist.
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