8 December 2000

BQP says it did not break rules intentionally

THE UKs biggest pig producer has claimed it did not know it was breaking the rules after being hit with a £4000 fine plus £1000 costs for illegally moving pigs within a swine fever surveillance area.

British Quality Pigs could have been fined nearly £900,000 if Ipswich magistrates had imposed the maximum penalty for the offence which took place on Sept 5.

On Monday (Dec 4), the Suffolk-based company, which rears pigs on about 250 farms, admitted moving 884 pigs out of an area in north Suffolk covered by movement restrictions. The case was brought by Suffolk Trading Standards.

BQP, which has a had a number of farms hit by the disease, accepted the courts finding that moving the pigs was unlawful.

But it said it did not intentionally break the rules. It told the court the pigs were moved after a mix up involving two farms which had the same name in the Stadbroke area.

Both were marked by pins on a BQP "crisis map" showing areas covered by swine fever surveillance zones. One was outside the surveillance zone and the other inside it. The pigs were moved from the wrong farm, the court was told.

In a statement, BQP managing director, Andrew Saunders, said: "It was extremely unfortunate that there were two farms with the same name only a mile or so apart and that the wrong farm was identified accidentally on our crisis map.

"Pigs were inadvertently moved in breach of the order entirely unbeknown to BQP, with no significant advantage to the company." &#42