An animal rights group has published the names, addresses and phone numbers of farmers signed up to the badger cull in the west of England.
Stop The Cull has created a map showing the location of more than 100 farmers and posted it online, telling its supporters that “only direct action” can save badgers’ lives.
- Calling farmers directly
- Playing the “Badger Badger Badger song” down the phone
- Adding farmers’ details to call back request sites to generate masses of unwanted calls
- Leaving fake answerphone messages farmers will have to respond to, for example “This is Mole Valley Farmers, we need to speak to you about your order”.
Stop The Cull says these tactics are designed to “sabotage” farmers’ time but not to be intimidating.
It is “perfectly legal” to ring once, the activists said, but warn against ringing multiple times as this could be construed as harassment.
Though keen to broadcast farmers’ contact details, the group advises its members to remain anonymous, by blocking their number, buying new pay-as-you-go phones or using online voice simulators.
The Badger Trust, another campaign group, has spoken out against the publication of farmers’ private details, expressing concern the tactic could lead to people being threatened.
Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the trust, said: “We fully understand the level of public anger over the cruel, hugely costly and ineffective badger cull policy, but nothing is to be gained by publishing details of those involved.
“We believe in peaceful opposition to the badger cull, acting within the law.”
The NFU has called intimidating, bullying and harassing farming families and their children in this way “indefensible”.
An NFU spokesman said: “We continue to find it extraordinary that this group – made up of a small number of extreme animal rights activists – feels it is morally acceptable to carry out activities like this, which are specifically designed to scare, threaten and intimidate normal farming families.
“Badger culls are being carried out legally and lawfully in specific areas as part of government policy to control and eradicate this terrible disease, which saw more than 33,000 cattle slaughtered in England last year.
“Anyone who calls farmers and their families with the aim of causing them distress is committing a criminal offence.”
Defra has stated any criminality or intimidation by protestors is “unacceptable” and would be a matter for the police.
What to do if you receive a suspicious, threatening or malicious telephone call
- Remain calm on the phone and try to collect as much useful information as possible, including their name and reason for call without giving away any of your details.
- Follow the standard police reporting procedure (see below).
- Never delete any voicemail messages and if possible record any phone calls.
- If activity persists contact BT malicious calls bureau (0800 661 441) and follow their advice.
Standard police reporting procedure
- Dial 101 and tell the operator you want to report a crime.
- Give your location and postcode and describe the incident.
- Gather as much evidence as possible, including descriptions of perpetrators and vehicle registrations. Only take photos and videos if it is safe to do so.
- Keep a copy of your witness statement, crime number and photos of the activity or damage.
Source: NFU and Police UK