Transcript made by warmwell
First item from Farming Today http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/farmingtoday/
Wednesday January 17th 2007.
Anna Hill: A family whose pet cow is under threat of slaughter, managed to fend off an attempt by government officials to put it down last week, and have now secured a Judicial Review.
Harriet is a suspected BSE cohort, meaning she shared housing and possibly feed with another animal which later died from Mad Cow Disease. Under European law, as a so-called "cohort", Harriet should be put down. She's owned by David Price in Gloucestershire.
Last week he was horrified to find no fewer than 22 officials had turned up on his farm to cull her:
"Absolutely gutting. Disgraceful. They can turn up, break into your land, they've cut the padlocks, they're setting up, they're taking her away. If I hadn't been around we wouldn't have known anything was going on. She could have been gone. Absolutely ludicrous. Disgraceful."Anna Hill: Farmer David Price. Well, Mark Harper is the Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean. He feels that the attempt to take Harriet away from her farm is similar to action taken by the government during Foot and Mouth Disease.
"This is one of the things that constituents frankly find so annoying - in fact very reminiscent of the Foot and Mouth debacle six years ago.Anna Hill: What happens now then? Is there going to be a judicial review?
They sent at least twelve police officers, eight trading standards officers, two state veterinary officials - so you had about 22 state officials trying to seize and cull one cow.
But because we'd been tipped off about it, a number of demonstrators had turned up and effectively we had a stand-off for about four and a half hours.
The family's solicitor was busy rushing into court to try to secure an application for a judicial review and an injunction.
Now I was busy here in conversation with the Minister's Office, basically making the point that until the legal process had been exhausted I didn't think it was appropriate that his officials were behaving in this way.
And so this stand-off continued in this way and eventually the police recommended at the local level that DEFRA would be very sensible to back off and not try and pursue things.
The solicitor turned up demonstrating she'd been to court and had applied for an injunction and I also think we sowed some confusion at the Ministerial end and in the end, about two o'clock in the afternoon, everyone disappeared.
Yes. I mean the substantive decision about whether the particular facts in this case are as the Minister sees them or as the family sees them will now be decided by a judge so I'm not going to go into the right and wrongs of that. That will now be put forward in front of a judge, an application for judicial review has been made and the judge will weigh up the facts on both sides and will make a determination about who is right, the family or the Minister.Anna Hill: What does the European Law actually say? Is it up to Member States themselves to decide whether these animals which were cohorts of BSE cattle and might not have been fed the same feed but were brought up on the same farm, whether they must be culled or not?
That's one of the points at dispute which will be decided by the judge. One of the new twists to this though is that this month there has been an amendment to the decision. The Council of Ministers has decided to slightly change the rules and Member States will now be able to apply for a derogation for an exemption from the current rules where they will be able to allow animals they deem as cohorts to actually not be culled until the end of their productive lives, giving them an extra option particularly applicable in cases like this where we're looking at a pet cow that's got no chance of entering the human food chain. I'm trying to persuade the Minister that he wants to apply for that derogation and use it in this case - and so far he's been somewhat reluctant to do so.Anna Hill: MP Mark Harper. And DEFRA says it will await the outcome of the Judicial Review before commenting.