Colne thugs jailed for animal cruelty offences

Three Colne thugs have been sent to jail for their part in “sickening” animal cruelty offences.

Shaun Mullens (22), of Leach Street, Joshua Varey (24), of Duke Street, and Paul Ashworth (49), of Hawley Street, all appeared at Pennine Magistrates’ Court today.

Mullens and Varey both pleaded guilty to attempting to kill a badger, while Ashworth pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, namely a black cat. Ashworth had been recorded on a mobile phone camera trying to shake a terrified cat from a tree. Laughter could be heard in the background.

Footage was also shown in court of the badger attacks.

Ashworth was given a 76-day custodial sentence, and was disqualified from owning dogs for five years.

Mullens was handed a 114-day sentence, and was disqualified from owning dogs for ten years.

Varey received a 126-day sentence, and was disqualified from owning dogs for ten years.

The case had been brought forward by the RSPCA, with assistance from Lancashire Police.

Speaking outside the court following the sentencing, PC Nigel Keates said: “I think the sentence has been absolutely appropriate.

“These were sickening attacks on defenceless animals.

“I would appeal now for a little bit of calm and relief from anybody on social media. There has been a sentence, and the courts have done their duty.”


Joshua Varey previous conviction


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Badger Trust court challenge rejected, but serious concerns remain over continuation of pilot culls

29th August 2014


Badger Trust court challenge rejected, but serious concerns remain over continuation of pilot culls

The Administrative Court has today handed down its judgment in Badger Trust’s judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision to continue the pilot culls without independent oversight.

In line with the precautionary approach adopted by the Secretary of State during the development and implementation of the policy, Badger Trust had understood from statements made by her predecessors that an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) would oversee, and analyse the results from, the pilot culls until a final decision was made on whether or not to roll out the culls to other areas.

However, despite the IEP finding that the first year of the pilot culls failed (by a significant margin) to achieve appropriate standards of both effectiveness and humaneness, the Secretary of State decided to continue the pilot culls with a view to a future roll-out, but without independent oversight to ensure such standards can actually be met. The Badger Trust therefore brought proceedings to prevent the Secretary of State from breaking her promise.

The Administrative Court has today found that, as a matter of law, the Secretary of State’s assurances did not amount to an enforceable legitimate expectation. However, the Court also rejected the Secretary of State’s attempt to argue that if there was a legitimate expectation she had properly considered whether she could resile from it.

Dominic Dyer, CEO of Badger Trust, commented:

“The Trust is considering its options in respect of an appeal against the Court’s decision. However, this judgment does not detract from the serious public concerns over the continuation of the cull, including the most recent leaks regarding potentially unlawful and unsafe activity undertaken by culling contractors during the 2013 culls. Given the indisputable failure of the 2013 culls, the still unresolved issues regarding safety and the significant uncertainty over the numbers of badgers to be killed in 2014, the only sensible option for the Secretary of State is to call a halt to these pilots, and the potentially unnecessary and inhumane deaths of hundreds of badgers.

“However, if she is not willing to do so, we call on Ms Truss to reinstate the IEP. As Counsel for the Trust, David Wolfe QC, observed during the hearing, the Secretary of State is not just moving the goal posts, but has banished the independent referee from the pitch. Whatever happens during the second year of the culls, in the absence of the IEP, it will be impossible to trust any findings supporting a wider roll out, not least because this is already clearly the preferred option of the Secretary of State."



Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust Tel: 07876 596233
Jack Reedy Badger Trust – Media Adviser Tel: 07751 731107 or 01564 783129

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Hunt saboteur Hospitalised after Being ridden down by Fox hunter

A hunt saboteur has been rushed to hospital after being ridden down by a member of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Fox Hunt during an evening cub hunting meet at the hunt kennels in Charlton Horethorne, Somerset.

Two hunt saboteurs were standing on a public road watching the hunt in a field when the attacker rode at them from behind, throwing the female saboteur up in the air with the force of the blow before she was dragged along the ground. An ambulance was immediately called but was stopped from reaching the casualty by hunt vehicles who deliberately blocked the road. An air ambulance also attended the scene. The female has been taken to hospital with a possible collapsed lung and back injury. The hunt then callously carried on hunting before returning to their kennels for a BBQ.

The attack was filmed by a vehicle mounted camera and this footage will be handed over to the police so that the cowardly attacker can be identified and arrested.

Cub hunting or “cubbing” takes place before the official hunting season when the hunts train young hounds to kill by setting them on naïve fox cubs who are easy quarry. Any of the young hounds who don’t show an inclination to hunt are killed by the hunts. Cubbing has been illegal since 2005 but is till common practice by most hunts.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “The Blackmore and Sparkford Vale have a long history of violence towards hunt saboteurs but this is a particularly cowardly attack even by their standards. Cubbing is a vital time of the hunting season for the hunts as they are training young hounds to kill. Disruption by hunt saboteurs can affect their whole season which is why they often react with violence at this time of year.”

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Badger cull targets announced for Gloucestershire and Somerset

26 August 2014

A target number of badgers to be killed in this year’s pilot cull has been announced.

Authorisation letters for the cull have been issued by Natural England. A minimum of 615 in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset need to be killed.

In 2013, 921 badgers were killed in Gloucestershire and 940 in Somerset in a bid to tackle TB in cattle.

The companies carrying out the cull have not announced when it will start this year.

A maximum number of badgers that can be culled this year has been set at 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.

Original population estimates for badgers in Gloucestershire have now been revised by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to 1,904 in Gloucestershire and 1,876 in Somerset.

The four-year pilot cull aims to kill 70% of the initial population to test how effective, humane and safe a cull can be.

An extension to the cull in 2013 in Gloucestershire was ended early as it had not met its target, and the Somerset pilot failed to meet its target even after a three-week extension.

Government ministers and the National Farmers’ Union believe culling badgers will curb TB in cattle. Opponents say shooting the animals is not effective and inhumane.

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North Wales Police carry out raids in Merseyside over alleged badger offences

Aug 14, 2014 18:15
By David Powell

A 25 year old Liverpool man was arrested in connection with disturbance and digging of a badger sett in the Holywell area in April

Police from North Wales investigating people suspected of disturbing badger setts today swooped on addresses in dawn raids in Liverpool.

There were 30 officers including colleagues from Merseyside in the cross border Operation Bayleaf.

Police officers from the Force’ Rural Crime Team (RCT) executed a number of search warrants in the Merseyside area and arrested a 25 year old Liverpool man in connection with offences committed earlier this year in Flintshire.

Two other young men have been bailed until next week.

Sergeant Rob Taylor said “This morning, and assisted by colleagues from Merseyside Police, five ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act’ search warrants were executed in the Merseyside area and a local man arrested in connection with disturbance and digging of a badger sett in the Holywell area in April this year.

“A number of items have been seized including cash and mobile phones and the man will be questioned later today.”

Sgt Taylor said that the officers had been up at 3am, and were in Liverpool by 5am.

He said: “It shows the commitment and determination to clamp down on alleged offenders no matter where they may be.

“This morning’s action demonstrates that regardless of their origins, the Rural Crime Team will relentlessly pursue suspected offenders to help achieve our goal of keeping our rural communities safe.

“Over the last 12 months we have seen a steady decrease in rural crime and with the continued support and vigilance from the local community I’m sure we can continue on that path.”

Sgt Taylor reminded the community to remain vigilant at all times. He suggested that everyone takes steps to ensure that their buildings and vehicles are locked and secured and to report suspicious behaviour to police immediately.

You can ring police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Rural Crime Team officers can be contacted via by dialling 101 or by e-mailing Ruralcrimeteam

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College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt members charged with illegal fox hunting

Three members of the College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt, including the Joint Master and Huntsman, have been charged with illegally hunting a fox.

Joint Master, Timothy Wyndham Basil Smalley, Huntsman, Ian Robert McKie and Kennel Huntsman, Andrew John Proe, are each charged with hunting a wild mammal with dogs, contrary to Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004.

The case is based on evidence supplied by the League Against Cruel Sports and further investigations carried out by Northumbria Police, in relation to an incident alleged to have taken place during an advertised hunt meet at West Kyloe Farm, near Lowick, Northumberland on 27th February 2014.

All three defendants have pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges. The case has been listed for trial at Berwick Magistrates’ Court on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th October 2014.

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Three Men Guilty of Hare Coursing

On Wednesday 16th July three men from outside the county were found guilty at Lincoln Magistrates Court of offences relating to Hare Coursing.

Shane Fury and Andrew Lee, both aged 23 and from Manchester, and Anthony Basford (30), from Stoke, pleaded not guilty before District Judge Stobart in relation to an incident near Glentworth on 30 October 2013.

A local gamekeeper saw the men coursing with dogs and when police officers from the Operation Galileo team arrived, two of the men attempted to run off. They were challenged and detained by police, including a police dog handler, Sgt Moon. A dead hare was found in a hedge bottom where they were located.

In court the men claimed they were simply in the county with a view to buying a dog but had taken a wrong turn, and got out to walk dogs. The claim was described by Judge Stobart as ‘a complete cock and bull story’.

All three men were disqualified from driving for 6 months, ordered to pay costs of £600 each, and were fined. Fury and Basford were fined £300 each and Lee received a fine of £150.

Inspector Andy Ham said: “Last year’s hare coursing season has long finished but cases are still going through the courts. These men decided to chance their arm by pleading not guilty and coming up with the kind of excuses regularly heard by officers on the Operation Galileo team. In this case the Court evidently shared our view that scenic as Lincolnshire may be, groups of men really don’t travel to our county from around the UK just to walk their dogs. The financial penalties and inconvenience posed by disqualification from driving, will stay with them longer than any financial gain or pleasure derived from a day out trespassing on land to kill a hare”.

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United Utilities kills 60 Canada geese ‘because they were attacking staff’

Wednesday 9th July 2014

BIRD lovers have reacted furiously after United Utilities killed 60 Canada geese because they were attacking staff.

United Utilities bosses said the birds have bitten several staff at the firm’s head office in Lingley Mere, Warrington, and one woman even had to visit her GP after she was attacked.

The company, which supplies Bolton’s water, carried out the overnight cull – during the breeding season – on June 26 under what a spokesman described as "strict compliance with a licence".

But keen birdwatcher David Kennedy said the water giant has taken the "easiest option" killing the birds and it was "particularly cruel" to take action when goslings had just been born.

He added: “There were all kinds of options open to them like catching the birds and releasing them somewhere like Pennington Flash or putting up railings around the paths.

“Geese can be a nuisance but if they didn’t want that problem on site then why include two lakes in the first place?

“I have been told there are none left now but when the birds are back in five or six years what will they do next?

“They need a plan going ahead that doesn’t involve slaughtering birds.”

A petition calling for United utilities to "pledge to never kill Canada geese again" has already reached more than 400 signatures online.

A source, who did not want to be named, said that while some staff did not like the birds others regularly fed them and have been outraged by the news.

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “It was a difficult decision to reduce the numbers of Canada geese at Lingley Mere, and we appreciate it wasn’t something everyone would agree with, but it was important we took action to encourage other wildlife to thrive on site and stop people being injured.

“Several staff have been hurt after being bitten by the birds, which was very worrying as we have a children’s nursery on our land.”

The spokesman added the geese were also "damaging the environment" with bird poo, leading to high levels of phosphate in the lakes and increased algae, preventing pond weed from growing, which lowers oxygen levels and can kill fish.

He added: “Our aim is to increase the biodiversity of Lingley Mere and the lakes and widen the variety of wildlife here and we would never be able to achieve this with such a high level of Canada geese on site.”

Andrew Taylor, director of animal rights group Animal Aid, said United Utilities had to be held to account.

He added: "The company are offering no real information what measures were taken to minimise suffering.

"The idea these birds presented a threat to people and had to be killed for defecating is an extreme and absurd over-reaction."

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Government advisors support Badger Trust High Court legal challenge

1st July 2014


Government advisors support Badger Trust High Court legal challenge

The Badger Trust has been granted permission by a judge for a Judicial Review challenge in the High Court against the DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Natural England. The test case focuses on the Government’s highly controversial badger cull policy.

The Judicial Review will argue that Owen Paterson and Natural England have failed to put in place any Independent Expert Panel for the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends such a Panel is needed to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation. Without this, there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision to continue with further culls around the country.

The Badger Trust legal challenge has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls carried out in 2013.

Commenting on the Judicial Review challenge, Ranald Munro, Chairman of the IEP said

“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the
statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”

Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild welcomed the judge’s decision to grant permission for the Judicial Review challenge saying

“Owen Paterson has done all he can to prevent this Judicial Review case going to the High Court and he has failed. His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.

“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent, whilst poorly trained NFU contract gunmen move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns without any independent monitoring or scrutiny. We know from last year’s culls that many badgers were wounded and suffered long painful deaths in a disastrous operation, which proved a complete and utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.

“I am very pleased to see that we have strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel and I look forward to joining Professor Tim Coulson in Parliament on Monday 7 July, when we will brief MP’s from all parties on why we believe they should also give their support to the Badger Trust legal challenge.

“I also call again on the British Veterinary Association to show animal welfare and humaneness is their number one priority by supporting the Badger Trust in the High Court.”

Badgers: Ministers ‘wilfully’ ignoring science advice

23 June 2014

A senior government adviser has described coalition plans to change the way the pilot badger culls are assessed as "an abuse" of the scientific method.

Prof Timothy Coulson is concerned the government is considering a less reliable way of assessing humaneness in the cull and numbers of badgers killed.

He is also concerned that it will scrap independent oversight.

It would also make it impossible to assess whether recommendations to improve the cull have worked.

The government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane and I fear we may hear that the second year is a success once it is over”

Prof Timothy Coulson Government advisor

Writing in Animal Ecology in Focus, Prof Coulson says that ministers must be "wilfully" ignoring the concerns of its own scientists.

"I am tempted to speculate that the government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane," he says in his article. "They just want to cull badgers, regardless of whether the population or humaneness consequences can be assessed."

He added: "And I fear we may hear that the second year is a success once it is over."

Prof Coulson told BBC News that he considered culling to be an "easy option" to make it look as if the government was trying to solve the spread of TB in cattle when it could actually make the problem worse if it failed to kill enough badgers.

"If culling worked I’d be fully supportive of them rolling it out, but all the evidence is that it does not," he told BBC News.

Prof Coulson, from the University of Oxford, is an internationally respected population biologist and was a member of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) that assessed the effectiveness, safety and humanness of two pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year.
Badger protests Protesters have questioned the rationale for the cull

A spokesman for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is running the pilot culls, said: "We will continue to monitor the effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls closely to assess the impact of the improvements we are making following the IEP’s recommendations."

"We are currently assessing the best and most cost-effective methods of doing this," she added. "Scientific evidence such as the findings of the IEP will always play an integral role in developing our approach to dealing with bovine TB, which includes strengthening cattle movement controls and developing vaccines for cattle and badgers."

We will continue to monitor the effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls closely to assess the impact of the improvements we are making following the IEP’s recommendations”

Defra spokesperson

However, Prof Coulson said that Defra ministers were not listening to the advice of their own scientists.

He told BBC News: "Government agencies are stuffed full of very competent scientists. Presumably the concerns that they must have raised are being wilfully ignored by government. I wonder why?

"I suspect the government no longer wants to know the answer to whether their ongoing pilot culls will deliver the required outcome."

Prof Rosie Woodroffe, of the Zoological Society of London, works closely with government employed scientists on the science of the badger cull. She told BBC News that she has "little doubt" that some scientists in Defra and other government agencies will be concerned that these culls will be ineffective and inhumane.

"I don’t know whether policymakers are not listening to their own scientists, or simply not seeking their own scientists’ views on what has become such a political issue."

Defra authorised two pilot culls over a four year period in Somerset and Gloucestershire last to see whether licensed marksmen could kill 70% of the badger population in the pilot areas, the number required to reduce the spread of TB in cattle. Defra agreed to independent oversight of the culls by the IEP. BBC News revealed earlier this year that the IEP concluded that the trials were ineffective and raised concerns about the number of badgers that died slowly after being shot by marksmen.

On the basis of that advice, Defra decided not to extend the culls to other parts of England as it had originally hoped – though the two pilot trials will continue for three more years as they are required to do under the culling licence issued by Natural England.

But Defra has decided not to continue with the independent oversight provided by the IEP. The department is also considering changing the method for assessing the number of badgers killed, citing cost as the reason.

Cost question

The method used last year involved analysing the genetic code of badgers in the cull area before the cull and then analysing the code of the badgers that were killed. Prof Coulson said this gave an accurate assessment of the proportion of badgers killed.

Instead, the BBC understands that Defra is considering two alternative approaches to monitor the culls. One of these is based on data from the companies that carried out the cull, but the IEP had little faith in these data, was critical of them in its report and did not use them.

The second method is based on a computer model which has not been validated for the two cull areas. The IEP was also critical of this in minutes of its meetings.

Prof Coulson has told BBC News that the "genotyping" work is not an expensive method and whatever method is used instead will be much less accurate. Genotyping costs around a £15-20 per badger and so the cost of doing the work should run into a few tens of thousands of pounds at most.

Ministers and farmers are hoping that this year’s pilots will be more effective than last year’s. To give policymakers, farmers and the public confidence in the outcome of the pilots, it’s essential that the same methods are used consistently”

Prof Rosie Woodroffe ZSL

"A cynic might speculate that (the change in method) is because following best animal ecology practice might lead to conclusions at odds with what the government seems unjustifiably determined to do," he said.

"In addition to changing the protocols, there is to be no more independent oversight of the ongoing culls. So who will oversee the analysis of data and the interpretation of results? The same folks that have decided to change the protocols half way through the experiment?"

The IEP made recommendations to improve humaneness which the government has accepted. The success or otherwise of these recommendations will also be hard to assess, according to Prof Coulson, because he believes the data on humaneness are not going to be collected from autopsies of badgers to assess how they were killed as was done last year.

Prof Woodroffe says that it won’t be possible to compare last year’s figures with the next set if the method used to count the badgers that have been killed is changed.

"Ministers and farmers are hoping that this year’s pilots will be more effective than last year’s. To give policymakers, farmers and the public confidence in the outcome of the pilots, it’s essential that the same methods are used consistently," she said.

Prof Coulson added that changing the way in which the experiment was assessed was "an abuse of the scientific method".

"’If the methods Defra are thought to be considering are used in place of those applied last year, it would be like starting a surgical procedure with a scalpel and forceps and finishing it with a garden spade and axe," he said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, the farming minister George Eustice said that Prof Coulson was "completely wrong".

"There are two separate things and I think he is confusing these two items, One is the monitoring and evaluation and last year we had 300 visits from (government) vets, compliance visits from Natural England and we carried out over 150 post mortems (of badger carcasses). That was the raw data that was collected," he said.

"Then there was the separate thing which is what the IEP did and that was really to give us advice on how we should treat the data we had. It was a one off project. They have given us advice on how we should treat that data and their work is over."
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