The Welsh Badger Trust has accused the Welsh Assembly government of holding secret meetings with farmers to plan a badger cull in a bid to control bovine TB.

Badger Trust Cymru said Elin Jones, Welsh minister for rural affairs, had set up two groups to plan the slaughter of badgers in a pilot region of Wales.

However details of the meetings and who sits on them had not been disclosed.

Calling for the immediate halt to the gatherings, Badger Trust Cymru said information was being withheld on the “spurious grounds” that it could trigger public demonstrations and lead to property damage.

Badger Trust Cymru’s Steve Clark said Ms Jones was “entirely responsible” for badgers being illegally killed by farmers.

“Her inflammatory but unsubstantiated claim that killing badgers is the ‘most effective measure’ for controlling bovine TB has incited farmers to break the law,” he said.

“Yet Elin Jones’ claim is contrary to overwhelming scientific evidence that badger culling makes no meaningful difference to TB control.

“Elin Jones must immediately suspend all discussions about killing badgers, recognising that it is an unscientific, backward step into the Dark Ages that has simply served to encourage a futile lynch mob mentality in a minority of farmers.”

The Welsh Assembly government must acknowledge that cattle and not badgers were the reservoir of bovine TB, he added.