8 June 2001

MAFF faces prosecution over cruel slaughter

A FARMER is planning a private prosecution of MAFF for cruelty to cattle which escaped on to neighbouring land when a foot-and-mouth infected farm in north Devon was being killed out three weeks ago.

Farmer and Knowstone Parish Council chairman, Bill Norman, is taking legal advice with a view to the prosecution. Although it will be in his name, the action is on behalf of all the villagers.

The cattle broke through on to neighbours land after marksmen tried to shoot them in a field without penning or sedating them. The next day they were chased and shot at in fields within full view of the village. Video recordings were made by several local people.

Mr Norman said the legal action would focus on incidents such as the bullock shot through the spine and left to crawl about in the field on two legs while the marksmen went after the others.

Since then several contiguous farms at Knowstone have had their apparently healthy animals killed and there have been three major stand-offs where farmers tried to prevent MAFF killing their animals.

MAFF forced the end of two stand-offs after ministry officials obtained a court order against one producer and pushed through protesters on the second farm and persuaded the owner to allow his cattle to be slaughtered. The slaughtermen left the premises between two lines of police to protect them from angry protesters.

The third stand-off was continuing as FW went to press. Steve Phillips was on guard hoping to prevent MAFF entering to kill a group of sheep in a field contiguous to the farm where one sheep tested positive. The sheep he is guarding belonged to his partner who died of cancer last week.

"If she was still alive she would be doing the same. She would not have let MAFF kill them. I am doing this for her." His efforts are backed up by a number of supporters both local and from further afield. &#42