The Welsh government has denied claims it is holding secret meetings with farmers to plan a badger cull in a bid to control bovine TB.

Welsh pressure group Badger Trust Cymru accused the Welsh Assembly of setting up two groups to decide on the slaughter of badgers in a pilot region of Wales.

The group said information about the meetings had been withheld to avoid triggering public demonstrations against cullings.

It also claimed Elin Hones, Welsh minister for rural affairs, had incited farmers to kill badgers illegally and called for all talks about a cull to end.

But the FUW said the claims by Badger Trust Cymru were “simply wrong” and denied claims that the minister had encouraged illegal badger culling.

“There are no secret meeting taking place with farmers,” a spokeswoman said.

“The minister is accountable to the National Assembly and only two weeks ago provided an update on the TB eradication programme to assembly members.

“It is important bovine TB is dealt with in a responsible manner based on facts. That is the approach we are taking.”

The FUW said Badger Trust Cymru was guilty of a “clever ploy” to get the press to publish claims that badgers did not spread TB.

Dai Davies, NFU Cymru president, said he did not expect to be involved in any secret meetings on the culling of infected badgers.

He added that although NFU Cymru was not aware of, and would not condone, the activities of any farmers involved in shooting badgers, it understood their frustrations.