Last-ditch bid to save life of prize bull

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GOVERNMENT officials have been slated for the way they called for a Doncaster area farmer’s prize-winning bull to be destroyed after testing positive for bovine TB.

High Court Judge Mr Justice McCombe said the case presented to the High Court on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was giving the impression ‘we know best – the nanny state knows best’.

He told the court the way some documents had been presented just raised hackles.

Ken Jackson, of Forlorn Hope Farm, at Stubbs Walden, near Doncaster and his daughter Kate McNeil made a last-ditch attempt to save the life of their ‘much-loved’ pedigree bull Hallmark Boxter, also known as Boxy.

The pair are seeking a judicial review and dispute the validity of the TB test that condemned their ‘unique and irreplaceable’ showground champion and want a retest. They are offering to pay for it themselves.

Mr Jackson wants the positive test declared null and void.

Julie Anderson, appearing for Defra, says the bull poses a dangerous threat of spreading bovine TB and must be destroyed, and says there was ‘no evidence whatsoever’ the positive blood sample had been contaminated.

Ms Anderson opposed moves by the farmers’ lawyers to call oral evidence and cross-examine witnesses, including Defra technicians who conducted the test, to support their case that Boxter’s blood samples had been mixed.

As she made her submissions, the judge told her: “I don’t like the strident manner in which this case is being put from the beginning.”

He said there was evidence of ‘increasing anger and stridency’ in Defra documents before the court that was ‘wholly misplaced’.

Ms Anderson said if that was the position, it was entirely her error, and apologised.

She told the court that Defra had gone to great lengths to ‘take the farmers with them’ over the bovine TB issue and the testing regime was of benefit to everybody.

The judge ruled that oral evidence should be given and witnesses cross-examined.