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Troubled pig firm is wound up

A long-running feud between pig farm bosses in Aberdeenshire has led to their company being wound up.

Scotpigs Ltd had been plagued by debts, disease and allegations of ill-treatment of animals for years.

A judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh has now ordered the appointment of provisional liquidators.

A spokesman for Scotpigs said the decision was "very disappointing" and an appeal would be sought after consultations with lawyers.

Judge Lady Paton's decision on Tuesday had followed a court move by director James Innes from Huntly in Aberdeenshire.

Mr Innes was a customer of a long-established pig breeding business run by members of Arthur Simmers' family until it ran into cash troubles in the 1990s.

He pumped in new money to rescue the business by buying land which was then leased back to the new company, Scotpigs.

But his lawyers told Lady Paton that the company owed Mr Innes so much money that it should be wound up.

It was claimed the debts included £300,000 in back rent, £51,000 for buying animals and more than £61,000 in stamp duty.

Scotpigs was also said to owe £1.4m to the taxman, £800,000 to bankers and "significant sums" to other creditors.

The other director, Arthur Simmers from Whiterashes, Aberdeenshire, resisted the move, claiming that sums which Mr Innes owed to the company amounted to more than the company owed him.

In the past the Simmers family had made unsuccessful attempts to sack Mr Innes as a director, and an attempt to buy him out also failed.

'Securing the future'

It has not been a good few months for Scotpigs. In December last year it was thrown out of the Quality Meat Scotland Scheme after criticisms of its "inadequate standards" of animal health.

But a spokesman for Scotpigs said after the court ruling that he believed the company could continue in business and was "intent on securing the future of the workforce and farms."

The spokesman said: "What makes this decision all the more frustrating is that we are only 10 working days away from refinancing the business and buying Mr Innes' share outright and removing him as a director.

"We have secured a large capital investment, which allows us to clear all of our debts and make a fresh start on 31 March.

"This is a very good deal for everyone who wants Scotpigs to continue as a business as opposed to those who would wish to liquidate the company for their own personal gain."

Pig Farming Giant to Be Wound Up

By Andrew Black, Scottish Press Association <

One of Scotland’s biggest pig farming companies is to be wound up after the Court of Session today ordered the appointment of provisional liquidators.

Scotpigs Ltd, which has hit the headlines several times over allegations that its animals were mistreated, was said to owe significant sums of money to a list of creditors.

Last December the company, whose director is Arthur Simmers – known within the industry as the Pig King – was thrown out of the Quality Meat Scotland Scheme, a code of conduct endorsed by the SSPCA to recognise good standards.

Animal protection organisation Advocates for Animals today welcomed the news.

The organisation secretly filmed at Scotpigs farms in Aberdeenshire, Tayside and West Lothian and produced footage which apparently showed pigs biting at the flesh of dead companions, sick and dying pigs with open sores and rat infestation.

Advocates for animals campaigns manager Yvonne Taylor said: “Whilst Advocates for Animals welcomes the news that Scotpigs is closing, it is a shocking indictment on our legislation that Scotpigs is being closed purely on financial grounds.

“Our video evidence showed these intelligent and sentient animals being kept in horrendous conditions, crammed into barren pens with little or no bedding and forced to live in their own excrement.

“We found sick pigs with open weeping sores, dying pigs, piglets pulling at the flesh of dead pigs, a rotting piglet, bins overflowing with dead pigs, fly infestations, dead rats and rats running all over the place.

“This alone surely should have been enough to immediately close Scotpigs farms.

Sadly these kinds of conditions appear to be accepted as the norm – this is the shameful reality of intensive pig farming in Scotland.”