Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to ban live animal exports as soon as Britain officially left the EU. But an upcoming court case is spreading doubt about whether or not he will follow through.Reading Time: 4 minutes
UK animal welfare campaigners who saw a vote for Brexit as an opportunity to end live farmed animal exports are perplexed by recent government efforts to defend the trade.
Told for years that European Union laws prevented a British ban on live exports, campaigners reasoned a pro-Brexit vote to leave the EU was the solution. That belief was backed by promises from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. In June, Johnson reiterated his promise to ban live exports as soon as Britain officially leaves the EU on December 31st this year.
But an upcoming court case is spreading doubt about those promises. The case, taken by British welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), seeks to end the export of unweaned calves from Scotland. A win, said CIWF lawyer Peter Stevenson, could have repercussions throughout the EU.
The problem for campaigners is that both the British and Scottish governments have taken recent steps to oppose CIWF’s case—due to be heard again in October—effectively protecting live exports.
On the British side, Stevenson said, opposition to CIWF’s case comes in an official document, submitted to the Scottish court by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). In Scotland, the government has appointed a barrister to fight the case.
Campaigners abhor live export for many reasons but top of the list is the experience of farmed animals in transport. Calves and sheep exported from the British port of Ramsgate spend many hours in ‘roll on, roll off’ trucks taking them from collection points to the port, onto ferries, and then to different parts of Europe.
For calves, the misery is compounded by a lack of liquid milk replacer. Other concerns include the rate at which the trucks fill with feces and urine, poor access to water, extreme heat in summer, cold in winter, cramped conditions, and the risk of injury or trampling.
Last year, official figures obtained by welfare organization, Eyes on Animals, show almost 3,500 unweaned (or milk-reliant) calves left from Ramsgate, a small port town in southeast Britain, along with 17,000 sheep.
Asked about the apparent contradiction of promising an end to live export, while fighting CIWF in court, DEFRA refused to comment on an ongoing legal case. In an email, however, a DEFRA spokesperson said the British government “has committed to improving the welfare of animals during transport and ending excessively long journeys for slaughter and fattening.”
A Scottish government spokesperson replied in a similar vein, saying it “would not be appropriate to comment while legal proceedings are ongoing.” The email added that “our preferred policy intention is not to support unnecessary long journeys involved in the export of livestock.”
CAWF patrons include high-profile politicians and peers, among them Lord Zac Goldsmith, recently appointed as Minister of State at DEFRA; Theresa Villiers, Minister of Parliament (MP); Sir Roger Gale MP; Sir David Amess MP and Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s partner. “And they are very vocal,” in support of a live export ban, said Platt.
Asked if she remained optimistic about ending live exports, despite the opposition to CIWF’s case, Platt said yes. “We never give up hope. There is great political will to end this. Boris Johnson wants to end it. And his partner Carrie Symonds and his father Stanley Johnson.”
She added that CAWF is equally hopeful that Brexit will lead to further animal welfare initiatives, notably bans on imports of fur and foie gras.
Other protesters variously described government opposition to CIWF’s case as frustrating, strange, illogical, or hypocritical. One, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of retaliation by farmers or live export companies, wondered whether politicians had gone soft. “I understood that with the Brexit vote, the ban on live exports might not be immediate. But now they are defending [the CIWF case] in court. We think they are trying to wriggle out of it, or they lied,” the protester said.
The protester is one of many regulars at the Ramsgate demonstrations, which can draw crowds of up to 100 people. The demonstrations are organized by KAALE – Kent Action Against Live Exports. KAALE’s secretary is Yvonne Birchall. She too voted Brexit in the hopes of ending live exports.
Speaking the morning after a July 9th Ramsgate protest, Birchall said that despite government opposition to the CIWF court case, she believes a ban will happen. “Boris won our votes on the promise of banning live export. If he breaks that he won’t get re-elected by us,” she said.
There are other reasons for optimism, added Birchall. One of those is an amendment to the Agriculture Bill that could ban live exports for slaughter and fattening tabled by Baroness Fookes, Conservative Party member and Life Peer in the House of Lords. “We think there will be cross-party support for that.”
Birchall said the previous night’s protest had been tough. “[The police commander] was very aggressive. The lorries [carrying animals to the port] came round the roundabout [where the protesters stand] at high speed – too quick for the conditions and the number of people. Our video team started to film, as we always do, and then the police were trying to stop us. That does not normally happen. I was shocked.”
Birchall added more details in a Facebook post and told Sentient Media she had a “sneaking suspicion” the police were trying to prevent filming “because we have been finding so many things wrong.”
Responding to Birchall’s criticisms, Kent chief inspector Alan Rogers said while police understand the “depth of feeling” protesters might have, they are “impartial and officers have a duty of care to keep everyone safe.” Rogers added that officers are specially trained “to respond proportionately to peaceful protest, prevent crime and disorder, and allow businesses to go about their lawful trade.”
The lawfulness of trade is, however, exactly the issue protesters want to see examined in court, using the evidence—provided to CIWF for their case—collected over many years by what Birchall calls KAALE’s “machine of people” that bear witness at the port.
In April, five eggs were observed in a nest, and in May, The White Stork Project announced that all the baby storks had successfully hatched at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex.
“After waiting 33 days for these eggs to hatch, it was extremely exciting to see signs that the first egg had hatched on May 6,” said Lucy Groves, a project officer for the White Stork Project. “The parents have been working hard and are doing a fantastic job, especially after their failed attempt last year. These are early days for the chicks, and we will be monitoring them closely, but we have great hopes for them. This is just one step towards establishing this species in the South of England. It may be a small step, but it is an exciting one.”
White Stork Project@ProjectStork
We are excited about the news of the first white stork chicks in hundreds of years.
They are only recently hatched & take 60 days to fledge.
We are asking that people give them the space needed at this critical time & do not disturb the nesting sites at @KneppSafaris
Nested in a large oak tree, the family is doing well, and the vigilant parents have been observed regurgitating food to feed their new arrivals.
The mother stork is from Poland and came to the project in 2016, and her mate is believed to be one of the 20 or so transient storks that fly to the country every year.
“This stunning species has really captured people’s imagination,” Groves added, “and it has been great following the sightings of birds from the project during the period of lockdown and hearing about the joy and hope they have brought to people.”
The White Stork Project is a joint venture between wildlife conservation groups and private landowners. It aims to restore the white stork population to at least 50 breeding pairs in southern England by 2030.
A female police officer was injured when protesters hurled projectiles and flares at her horse which bolted and sent her into a traffic light, amid chaotic scenes at the Black Lives Matter protest last night.
Footage shows the demonstration on Whitehall, central London turning violent as protestors bombard mounted officers with missile – and even Boris bikes – after hours of peaceful rallies drew to a close.
Through piecing together pictures, bystanders’ videos and eye-witness accounts at the scene, this how the dramatic situation unfolded.
A female police officer was injured after her horse slammed her into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground after being spooked by projectiles thrown by protestors
IN FULL: Police knocked off horse during BLM demonstration
Shocking footage show a horse on Whitehall in a state of panic after being hit with missiles such as glass bottles and flares thrown by protestors.
The horse’s female rider struggles to stay in control as she rides the animal down the street charging protestors.
But within seconds the horse slams into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground amid shocked gasps from onlookers.
The runaway police horse then turns back on itself, slamming a demonstrator to the ground as it attempts to flee the scene
Riderless horse hits protestor
The now-riderless horse continues to look to escape the crowds, scattering protestors as they attempt to get out of its path.
But then, after violently changing direction, the animal runs directly into a demonstrator, knocking them straight to the ground.
Another bystander then captures the horse running up Whitehall before turning off down Horse Guards Avenue, and eventually making its own way to its stables.
The injured officer is seen being pulled off the street by two other officers and a protestor. Met Police have confirmed she is recovering in hospital
Police officer falls off horse at BLM protest in London
Female officer is hospitalised
In front of Downing Street, two officers and a demonstrator are seen dragging the fallen horse rider out of the street. She is believed to have been knocked unconscious in the fall.
Met Police said last night: ‘The officer is currently in hospital, receiving treatment for her injuries which are not life threatening.
‘The officer fell from her horse and we are examining the full circumstances of what took place.’
The Metropolitan Police told MailOnline that they are continuing to investigation the cause of the incident.
Demonstrators were caught launching bicycles at police horses during violent scenes on Whitehall, central London on Saturday
Protestor hurls bike at horse
Amid an increasingly tense backdrop, protestors continue to throw projectiles at mounted police officers.
A series of photos captures a masked protester wearing a dark blue overcoat and black gloves picking up a Boris bike in front of the Foreign Office.
He then deliberately hurtles the bicycle straight in to the path of a group of police horses.
Witnesses reported another two incidents where bikes were thrown towards horses at around the same time.
One masked man was seen purposefully rolling a Boris bike straight into the path of a mounted horse. Others were seen on social media throwing projectiles such as water bottles at riot police
The bike hits one of the horses on its right side before falling over, causing the horse to rear up as its rider tries to bring it under control.
There are several reports that missiles, possibly a flare, also hit officers on horseback. One bystander said: ‘One flare was an inch from my head.
‘It went right past me and hit the officer’s shield. A bike was thrown at the horse.’
A police horse, believed to have a female rider, bolts after being hit with a bicycle. The horse quickly turns and makes its way down Whitehall as terrified crowds scatter to get out of the way
Terrified horse bolts
More photos show what appears to be a second horse, in front of strewn Boris bikes, standing on its hind legs before it bolts following the incident.
The Met Police confirmed tonight while they are still investigating what happened, no animals were injured in the protests.
Thousands of protestors took to the streets of London today to protest against police brutality, following the death of US citizen George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
Protestors congregated in Parliament Square and Downing Street before moving across the other locations in the Capital including Battersea and Victoria.
The scenes on Saturday are the latest in a string of protests to have taken place throughout the week in London.
The officer (pictured) lay motionless on the floor following the incident near Downing Street on Saturday afternoon
The officer was moved to the pavement (pictured) after he collided with a traffic light whilst moving at high-speed on the horse
Police horse collides with woman during BLM demonstration
The demonstrations occurred despite please from Government ministers, including Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to not break lockdown regulations and attend the protests.
Some protestors were seen wearing face masks and other means of protective equipment.
Elsewhere in London, popular boxer Anthony Joshua attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration in his hometown of Watford.
The heavyweight boxing champion made a passionate speech calling for the need to ‘speak out in peaceful demonstrations’ and not to protest with ‘selfish motives and turning it into rioting and looting’.
There have also been protests in major UK cities such as Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield and Newcastle.
In a welcome animal rights victory, landmark legislation prohibiting the third-party sale of puppies and kittens for profit has become law in England, the UK government announced.
Lucy’s Law — named after a cavalier King Charles spaniel who was born in a Welsh puppy farm in 2008 and callously bred to produce multiple puppy litters — is designed to stop illegal puppy farming and ban third-party dealers, making all dog and cat breeders accountable for the welfare of the animals in their care.
People who want to add a puppy or kitten to their family will now have to acquire one directly from a licensed breeder or adopt from a rescue center. Traders who sell these animals without a licence can face up to six months in prison, or an unlimited fine.
The new legislation came into effect following a long campaign headed by veterinarian and animal welfare advocate Marc Abraham, which was supported by high-profile figures such as Brian May, Ricky Gervais and Peter Egan.
“I’m incredibly proud to have led the 10-year campaign to ban cruel puppy and kitten dealers and to get this essential Lucy’s Law legislation over the line,” said Abraham, who is also the founder of Pup Aid. “I’d like to give a huge thanks to the UK Government for passing this law, as well as every animal-loving parliamentarian, celebrity, welfare organization, and member of the public that supported us.”
“Lucy was an incredibly brave dog,” he continued, “and it’s right that her memory is honoured with such an important piece of legislation to help end puppy farm cruelty; protecting breeding dogs just like her, as well as cats, their young, and also unsuspecting animal-lovers from the dangers of irresponsible breeding and cruel puppy and kitten dealers.”
Eating meat could become illegal due to the ecological damage it does to the planet, a top British barrister has said.
Michael Mansfield QC believes the government should introduce tighter legislation to make activities which destroy the natural world illegal – and in the future this could even include banning the consumption of meat.
“There are plenty of things that were once commonplace that are now illegal such as smoking inside,” said Mr Mansfield, who will present his ideas at the Labour party conference on Monday.
“We know that the top 3,000 companies in the world are responsible for more than £1.5tn worth of damage to the environment with meat and dairy production high on the list. We know that because the UN has told us so.
“I think when we look at the damage eating meat is doing to the planet it is not preposterous to think that one day it will become illegal,” he said.
Currently 25 per cent of global emissions come from agriculture, with livestock contributing to 80 per cent of that.
Industrial agriculture relies on fossil fuels to create fertilisers and machinery to harvest crops and transport animals. Farmed animals also produce half of the world’s methane emissions. Research last year found that meat and dairy companies could overtake the oil industry as the world’s biggest polluters by 2050.
“It is time for a new law on ecocide to go alongside genocide and the other crimes against humanity,” said Mr Mansfield.
The top QC will be making a speech at the launch of the Vegan Now campaign at the Labour party conference where he will be sitting on a panel of experts debating the damaging effects of livestock farming on biodiversity and climate change.
Juliet Gellatley, director of animal rights group Viva!, who will also be on the panel, said: “Thirty years ago people didn’t bat an eyelid if you lit a cigarette in a pub or restaurant. But now society accepts smoking is harmful and totally unnecessary and so we legislated against it. The same could happen with eating meat.”
Experts behind the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found red meat had high greenhouse gas footprint because of the emissions livestock give out as well as the impact of land being cleared to grow crops for animal feed.
The report says we should be eating balanced diets with plant-based foods such as grains, vegetables and pulses, and animal-based food produced in sustainable systems.
A group of celebrities react to the UK’s first vegan television advert in this video created by Veganuary and shared exclusively with Plant Based News.
Veganuary – a global organization that encourages people to try vegan in January and beyond – created the advert, which will be the first of its kind to air on mainstream TV in the UK, Germany and the US between Christmas and New Year.
This reaction video – released before the advert starts screening on December 29 – features famous vegan faces including Evanna Lynch, Carl Donnelly, and Derek Sarno among others.
Veganuary produced the advert – which it describes as ‘high-quality, attention-grabbing and thought-provoking’ in collaboration with Kolle Rebbe ad agency and vegan film producer Fabian Weigt.
The charity says: “In true Veganuary style it’s fun, funny and non-judgmental, yet is guaranteed to make people question how comfortable they truly are with their food choices.”
It features an international cast to ‘demonstrate how this issue goes to the very heart of human nature’.
The power of TV
“We all know the power of TV advertising to capture people’s attention and influence their behavior, so getting the first pro-vegan ad on TV will be a major milestone for our movement,” Toni Vernelli, Head of Communications at Veganuary, said.
She added that getting the ‘bold, fresh, and compelling ad in front of millions of people’ could ‘inspire them to try vegan this January and beyond’.
You can find out more about Veganuary – including how to sign up for the month-long pledge – here
Any new garments made for the monarch from now on, including coats, hats and ceremonial robes requiring fur, will be made with the fake variety.
Angela Kelly, the Queen’s long time dressmaker and confidante, reveals in her new memoir: “If Her Majesty is due to attend an engagement in particularly cold weather, from 2019 onwards fake fur will be used to make sure she stays warm”.
In the book, The Other Side Of The Coin: The Queen, The Dresser And The Wardrobe, Ms Kelly notes that a coat worn by the Queen in Slovakia in 2008 has since been altered, the mink trim replaced with fake fur.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed: “As new outfits are designed for the Queen, any fur used will be fake.”
However, sources confirmed that the change in direction will only concern new garments.
The monarch will continue to wear the existing pieces in her wardrobe made with fur, from coats and hats to ceremonial robes.
The Queen has repeatedly been criticised by animal rights charities for continuing to wear fur, despite multiple high-fashion houses abandoning use of the “cruel” product.
Her new approach was welcomed by activists.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International said: “We are thrilled that Her Majesty has officially gone fur-free.
“Queen Elizabeth’s decision to ‘go faux’ is the perfect reflection of the mood of the British public, the vast majority of whom detest cruel fur, and want nothing to do with it.
“Our Head of State going fur-free sends a powerful message that fur is firmly out of fashion and does not belong with Brand Britain.
“The UK banned fur farming almost two decades ago because it was deemed too cruel, now we must finish the job and ban fur sales too.
“We are calling on the British Government to follow Her Majesty’s example and make the UK the first country in the world to ban the sale of animal fur.”
The Duchess of Cambridge wears fur, but ensures it comes from ethical sources.
One of her favourite items, in which she has been seen multiple times, is a brown hat made from the pelts of alpacas which died of natural causes.
She is such a fan of the Fairtrade brand Peruvian Connection that she has many of their alpaca hats in different colours.
The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming on ethical grounds, although it still allows animal fur to be imported from other countries including Finland, Poland and China.
Many fashion houses have banned real fur after protests from animal rights organisations, including Gucci, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, Armarni and Hugo Boss.
However, the British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) has warned against banning the item, arguing that it is sustainable, plastic-free and lasts a long time.
A BFTA spokesperson said: “The Royal Family have been at forefront of championing animal welfare and conservation efforts across the globe for many years something that aligns fully with responsibly sourced fur.
“Natural fur is one of the most sustainable and long lasting natural products available, so despite what animal rights groups would claim, we are sure that the Royal Family will continue wear responsibly sourced fur as many on the high street continue to do.”
Brian May has said Queen will not play Glastonbury next year after clashing with the festival’s founder over the controversial badger cull.
The 72-year-old guitarist and animal rights campaigner rubbished claims that his band had been booked to headline Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary event next year.
Founder Michael Eavis, 84, who is also a dairy farmer, has called May a “danger to farming” and criticised him for his opposition to the badger cull, which is aimed at preventing the spread of bovine TB.
Last year, Eavis’s support for the cull prompted the Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan to call on music fans to boycott Glastonbury.
Speaking on BBC Radio 2 on Friday, May said Queen, who are touring with American Idol’s Adam Lambert providing the vocals, would not perform at Glastonbury in 2020 unless “things changed radically”.
“No, we won’t [perform], and there are lots of reasons for that. One is that Michael Eavis has frequently insulted me and I don’t really particularly enjoy that,” he said.
“What bothers me more is that he is in favour of the badger cull, which I regard as a tragedy and unnecessary crime against wildlife.
May is also the co-founder of the Save Me animal welfare organisation, which campaigns against fox hunting and badger culling.
He started the body in 2010 alongside the environmental campaigner Anne Brummer, and named it after Queen’s 1980 hit.
May appeared on Zoe Ball’s show alongside the singer-songwriter James Blunt and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas. Blunt did not say whether he would perform at Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary.
He said: “I’m off on my tour from February around the UK. I will be doing some summer festivals. Glastonbury has always been my favourite gig to play. I’ve played on the Pyramid Stage a couple of times and it’s an amazing place, absolutely.”
Diana Ross, who made her name in The Supremes, has already been announced as the performer for next year’s Sunday afternoon Legends slot, which last year was filled by Kylie Minogue.
Representatives of Glastonbury have been contacted for comment.