Farmer awaits bull verdict

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The fate of Boxy, the prize-winning Doncaster area bull, hung in the balance as a courtroom battle to save him from a death sentence came to a close.

After many hours of legal argument a High Court judge in London – who has the task of deciding what is to happen to the ‘much-loved’ animal – reserved his judgment.

No date was given for Mr Justice McCombe’s ruling on the fight over the future of pedigree bull Hallmark Boxter, also known as Boxy, who faces being destroyed after testing positive for bovine TB.

Ken Jackson, of Forlorn Hope Farm in South Yorkshire, and his daughter Kate McNeil, dispute the validity of the TB test that condemned their ‘unique and irreplaceable’ showground champion and want a re-test. They are offering to pay for it themselves.

A positive blood sample was taken from the bull in April last year and officials of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or Defra, issued notices of intended slaughter, leading to a long-running legal battle to save his life.

Mr Jackson, whose farm is at Stubbs Walden, to the north of the borough, argues the officers who took the sample mixed two half-full vials in the field, contrary to written procedures. He wants the positive test declared null and void by the court.

But Julie Anderson, appearing for Defra, submitted that the bull poses a dangerous threat of spreading bovine TB and must be destroyed.

She says there is no evidence the positive blood sample was contaminated and that it is too late to conduct a fresh test.

She says it is now impossible to prove the bull is free of TB.