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Owner of condemned alpaca Geronimo vows to ‘fight on’

Owner of condemned alpaca Geronimo vows to ‘fight on’

The owner of Geronimo the alpaca said she will “obstruct” anyone who comes on to her farm after losing a last-ditch High Court bid to save him, vowing: “It’s not over.”

The animal has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and, as a result, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has ordered its destruction.

His owner Helen Macdonald, who imported him from New Zealand, believes the tests are returning false positives, but has been refused permission to have him tested a third time.

Ms Macdonald said she is now in a “stand-off situation” and will “fight on”.

Ms Macdonald, who owns a farm at Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, has received an outpouring of support from the public, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling on Boris Johnson to halt the killing.

She said the judge seems to have taken it “on face value” that Defra have disclosed what they needed to disclose.

“It’s not over. We’re back to where we were a week ago,” she told the PA news agency.

Ms Macdonald said the Government have to “sort this out properly”, adding: “I’m not having my healthy animal put to sleep and neither am I going to permit them, if I can possibly help it, to come and slaughter him in front of the rest of the planet.

“They seem to want to make it my decision, and make me put my animal to sleep, to get the blood off their hands. I’m not doing it.”

Asked what will happen if officials arrive at her property in the coming days, she said: “Well, we’ll just obstruct. I don’t want to break the law. I’m not a criminal.

“They’re trying to make me into one but I’m not a criminal. I will obstruct anyone who comes on to my farm.”

Asked about what she plans specifically, she said: “I don’t know. We’ll have to play it by ear, but we’ve got people here all the time, and we’ll make life difficult for them.”

Ms Macdonald added: “It’s not a very nice situation to be in, but it’s definitely not over.

“We’ve got so much worldwide support, we’re not about to roll over now just because the Government decides that they can be dishonest and get away with it.

“That’s not how it works, so, yeah, we’ll fight on.”

Earlier this month, Ms Macdonald lost her final appeal to save her beloved pet at the High Court in London and a warrant was signed for his destruction.

On Tuesday, an urgent application for a temporary injunction to halt the enforcement of the destruction order was considered by Mrs Justice Stacey at the High Court in London.

However, the judge said she would need further information from Ms Macdonald and from Government lawyers before she could make her decision, and said she would resume the hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

At court on Wednesday, the judge refused the urgent application and concluded there was “no prospect” of Ms Macdonald succeeding in her bid to reopen a previous ruling.

Ned Westaway, representing the Defra executive agency the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha), told the court the agency will not seek to execute the warrant on Wednesday evening and would give Ms Macdonald the opportunity to make her own arrangements for Geronimo’s destruction.

Ms Macdonald’s lawyers told the court Geronimo first tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in September 2017 and has been in isolation since.

Catrin McGahey QC told the court that although Defra argued in previous hearings there was a “residual risk” to other animals, the agency has also agreed Ms Macdonald’s bio-security arrangements are “impeccable”.

She said it had come to light following the publicity resulting from Ms Macdonald’s case that other animals who have been subjected to the same testing regime as Geronimo have later showed no signs of the disease after being euthanised.

The barrister said the publicity had led the Daily Mail to find the owners of nine other camelids who were tested under the same regime, whose animals showed no signs of the disease after slaughter.

However, following an adjournment to allow Ms Macdonald’s lawyers to decide what evidence they wish Defra to produce and a time estimate of how long that may take, the judge refused to grant injunctions to spare Geronimo pending a further hearing and for disclosure.

Mrs Justice Stacey said that on the evidence before her, Ms Macdonald had not succeeded in showing there was any prospect of her reopening the litigation.

She said the farmer’s complaint about non-disclosure did not give rise to an arguable case, but was a “disingenuous and backdoor way of seeking a further route to appeal” when there was none left.

Last week the Government insisted all the evidence on the animal’s condition had been “looked at very carefully”.

A Defra spokesman said: “We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation – just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

“It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.

“Bovine tuberculosis is one of the greatest animal health threats we face today and causes devastation and distress for farming families and rural communities across the country while costing the taxpayer around £100 million every year.

“Therefore, while nobody wants to cull animals, we need to do everything we can tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.”

Content provided by Radio NewsHub. Originally published on 2021-08-18 20:30:00.

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