Geronimo gets stay of execution after owner wins case review

The fate of the condemned alpaca, Geronimo, still hangs in the balance after the animal owner’s claim for a review of the case was accepted by the High Court.

Helen Macdonald has earned a stay of execution for the alpaca, which was originally ordered to be slaughtered after it failed two TB tests at her farm in Wickar, south Gloucestershire, in 2017.

See also: Defra asked to spare alpaca’s life for bovine TB research

Ms Macdonald has always disputed the accuracy of the results, but lost a legal battle with Defra earlier this month and the alpaca was ordered to be slaughtered within 30 days from 5 August.

But a High Court hearing took place on Tuesday (17 August) to consider the owner’s claim for judicial review on the basis of material non-disclosure.

Mrs Justice Stacey adjourned the hearing until Wednesday afternoon and instructed both parties to agree the extent of any further disclosure to be given before she rules on the application.

Ms Macdonald said Geronimo was safe until the ruling had been made.

She told Farmers Weekly the latest reprieve was a “real relief”.

“We have another opportunity to get justice,” said Ms Macdonald. “This news has dropped my stress levels right down and I feel like I can breathe again. I am constantly on alert and even though we have a lot of people here helping and guarding, there is constant anxiety.”

Geronimo’s owner added that the relentless four-year battle to save her animal was worth fighting.

“There’s got to be some respect for farmers and some respect for science. Whether they are bred for meat or fibre, or whatever, they are still animals, they are still owned by people.”

The case has attracted much media coverage, and many comments from livestock producers who, while having sympathy for the animal’s plight, point out that thousands of cattle are slaughtered every year on the basis of inconclusive and false-positive test results.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We cannot comment publicly on ongoing legal proceedings.”