Rock star Brian May has backed a legal challenge to halt plans to carry out a badger cull in Wales in a bid to eradicate bovine TB.

Calls for a judicial review of the Welsh Assembly Government’s cull decision are being made by campaigners the Badger Trust at Swansea High Court during a two-day hearing (22-23 March).

Speaking during a break in the hearing, the Queen guitarist and wildlife rescue centre owner branded a badger cull as “genocide”.

Killing badgers made as much sense as killing all ginger-haired people to eradicate smallpox, he said.

“Anyone would think that doing that was insane, but that is what we are proposing to do with badgers,” he added.

But the Farmers Union of Wales branded Mr May’s attendance at the hearing as a “cynical publicity stunt”.

Brian Walters, FUW vice-president, said the millionaire rockstar’s comments showed a subjective approach to animal welfare and smacked of a condescending attitude to the Welsh government.

“We have seen tens of thousands of cattle taken away due to TB, yet we have not heard a single word from Brian May regarding this slaughter,” he said.

“He may be losing a ‘precious’ day in the studio but does he know how many farmers are losing precious days of work to witness their animals being herded into trailers to be taken to slaughterhouses because of TB?

“Nobody agrees to the needless destruction of wildlife but TB is costing the lives of thousands of cattle as well and of badgers already suffering excruciatingly painful deaths due to the disease.”

A preliminary decision on whether to carry out a judicial review is expected by the end of the month.

If the legal challenge fails, five culls will take place within a 288sq km pilot area where the Welsh Assembly Government has said 42% of cattle owners have had at least one case of TB in their herd since 2003.

The first cull will take place after the badger breeding season ends in May.