Judge grants injunction to protect badger cull farmers being abused
A High Court judge has made an order aimed at stopping farmers involved in badger culls being harassed and abused.
Mr Justice Turner granted an injunction at a hearing in London yesterday after lawyers representing the National Farmers’ Union said farmers had been targeted.
But one protester said the order would not stop protests and said demonstrators aimed to make the lives of farmers involved in badger culls a “misery”.
The order includes provisions preventing protesters entering private land without consent and protects farmers from threats and harassment – and anyone found to be in breach could face contempt of court proceedings.
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NFU lawyers told the judge that in 2011 the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that badger culling would be allowed in an attempt to prevent bovine tuberculosis in livestock.
They said pilot culls were due to start soon in parts of Gloucestershire, Somerset and possibly Dorset. Lawyers said the cull was controversial and farmers have already been harassed. They said “harassing activity” had increased in preparation for “interference with the cull” and outlined a number of incidents.
NFU president Peter Kendall said after the hearing that the injunction was not aimed at stopping lawful protest. He said it was intended to prevent ‘‘unacceptable incidents of harassment”.
But Jay Tiernan, who was named in court as a representative of the Coalition of Badger Action Groups, said he did not condone unlawful harassment.
And he said the injunction would not stop protests.
“It will make absolutely no difference whatsoever,” said Mr Tiernan after the hearing. “We certainly do want to reduce the numbers of farmers involved. We like to think of ourselves as being very, very annoying.”
He added: “We will use every available piece of legislation we can to make their lives a misery.”
Mr Tiernan said many members of the public who would not class themselves as “animal rights activists” were opposed to the cull.
In 2012 conservation group the Badger Trust failed in a bid to have the cull – which was given the go-ahead by ministers in an attempt to limit the spread of tuberculosis in cattle – declared unlawful by the High Court. And Christina Michalos, for the NFU, told Mr Justice Turner that a number of groups had opposed the cull.
She said there had been peaceful and lawful protest but a number of a protest groups had supported and encouraged “direct action” – and opponents had used social media and the internet to “garner support”. She said “harassing activity” had started to increase in “obvious preparation for interference with the cull”.
Mr Kendall said after the hearing: “These badger culls are an essential part of the fight against this terrible disease.”