5 December 2000
Pig giant fined for illegal movement

By FWi staff

BRITAINS biggest pig producer has been fined 4000 plus 1000 costs after illegally moving 884 pigs within a swine-fever surveillance area.

British Quality Pigs (BQP) accepted the findings of Ipswich magistrates that it unlawfully moved the pigs in the Stradbroke area of north Suffolk.

The case referred to an incident that took place on 5 September while the Stradbroke area was under swine-fever movement restrictions.

But the company told Ipswich magistrates on Monday (4 December) that it had not intentionally breached strict rules designed to contain the disease.

The pigs were moved after a mix-up involving two farms within a mile of each other which had the same name, the court heard.

One farm was outside the restriction zone. Although the other was inside, both were marked by pins on a BQP “crisis map” showing swine-fever zones.

The court heard that the pigs in question were mistakenly moved from the farm inside the surveillance zone rather than the one outside.

BQP managing director Andrew Saunders said in a statement that it was “extremely unfortunate” that pigs had been moved from the wrong farm.

“Pigs were inadvertently moved in breach of the order entirely unbeknown to BQP, with no significant advantage to the company,” he said.

The “accidental breach” of the rules had not spread swine fever and Ministry of Agriculture vets had found the pigs to be free of the disease, he said.

Alan Fletcher, director of Suffolk Trading Standards, which brought the case against BQP, said that all swine controls had to be taken seriously.

“Our hope is that any farmer tempted to break the rules controlling movement of animals will be deterred by this case,” he added.