A last-ditch legal attempt to save Geronimo the alpaca has been rejected by a high court judge.
一种 “human shield” of supporters and newspaper reporters remains around his pen at a south Gloucestershire farm, but the government has hinted it is only a matter of time before the camelid is put down.
Geronimo has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, but the animal’s owner, the veterinary nurse Helen Macdonald, argues the regime is flawed and the eight-year-old alpaca is perfectly healthy. She has asked for the animal, who was imported from New Zealand, to be retested, but the government has refused.
At the high court in London, Mrs Justice Stacey considered an urgent application for a temporary injunction to halt the enforcement of Geronimo’s destruction order. Stacey ruled there was “no prospect” of Macdonald succeeding in her attempt to reopen a previous ruling.
Ned Westaway, representing the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha), an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), told the court the agency would give Macdonald the opportunity to make her own arrangements for Geronimo’s destruction.
Macdonald’s lawyers told the court Geronimo first tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in September 2017 and had been in isolation since.
Cathryn McGahey QC said that following the publicity around Geronimo, it had emerged that the corpses of nine other animals that had been subjected to the same testing showed no signs of the disease after being euthanised.
Macdonald has said no other alpacas living close to Geronimo have been taken ill and that the farm’s biosecurity arrangements are “impeccable”. Geronimo’s owner said she would not break the law to protect him, but has warned there is a camera that looks over his pen, meaning his last moments would be beamed to a watching world.
The government said all evidence on the animal’s condition had been looked at “very carefully”.
Macdonald’s legal team said they were “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the high court hearing. In a statement they said: “Mrs Justice Stacey did not grant the injunction we were seeking, the result of which is that Defra can enforce the warrant to execute Geronimo at any time after 4.30pm on Thursday 19 八月.
“很遗憾, Mrs Justice Stacey has taken at face value the statements by Defra that they have complied with their duty of candour in bringing before the court all relevant information in applying for the warrant. We are surprised and concerned by that approach, given the information that has come to light in recent weeks regarding the nine other camelids.”
A Defra spokesperson said on Wednesday: “We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald’s situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease. The testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny.
“Bovine tuberculosis is one of the greatest animal health threats we face today and causes devastation and distress for farming families and rural communities across the country, while costing the taxpayer around £100m every year.
“Therefore, while nobody wants to cull infected animals, we need to do everything we can to tackle this disease to stop it spreading and to protect the livelihoods of those affected.”