Judge rules BSE offspring must die

7 August 2000

Judge rules BSE offspring must die

A HIGH court judge has rejected a farmers plea to spare the lives of his champion Highland cow and her unborn calf.

Justice Dyson ruled on Friday at the High Court in London that Hertfordshire farmer David Owens prize-winning cow, Diana, had to be sacrificed to maintain the credibility of Britains BSE controls.

MAFF ordered the slaughter of the three-year-old cow, due to calve early next year, in June.

The cows mother was diagnosed with BSE last year and legislation requires that the offspring of BSE-infected cows must be slaughtered.

Mr Owen, of Mansell Farm, Codicote, accepted that the cow had to be killed but wanted her to be spared long enough to give birth.

His counsel said there was “no real risk” the disease had been passed on from Valentine, a Royal Show champion.

He said Diana was bred solely for breeding and there was no possibility of her meat entering the food chain.

But the judge rejected claims that MAFFs refusal to accept compromise was “irrational”.

He described the case as sad, but said the ministry had very limited discretion to spare the animals life.

MAFF QC Christopher Vajda argued that three years of hard fighting to get the EU beef export ban lifted would be jeopardised if the Ministry allowed the cow to live.

MAFF agreed not to enforce the slaughter of the cow for seven days to allow Mr Owen the chance to appeal.

See more