Condemned South Yorkshire bull 'Boxy' in court reprieve
A bull sentenced to slaughter after testing positive for bovine TB has won a reprieve after its South Yorkshire owners took its case to the High Court.
Ken Jackson, of Forlorn Hope Farm, Walden Stubbs, disputes the validity of a TB test that condemned Boxy the bull.
Defra ordered the bull to be slaughtered after a positive blood sample was taken last April.
Mr Justice McCombe quashed the slaughter notice and said Defra made "a mountain out of a farm molehill".
Mr Jackson had told the court he wanted prize-winning Hallmark Boxter, also known as Boxy, to be re-tested and offered to pay for it.
Slaughter notice quashed
He argued that the officers who took the sample mixed two half-full vials in the field, contrary to written procedures.
Julie Anderson, appearing for Defra, argued that the bull posed a dangerous threat of spreading bovine TB and must be destroyed.
She submitted that there was "no evidence whatsoever" that the positive blood sample had been contaminated.
But at the High Court in London Mr Justice McCombe quashed the notices of intended slaughter, ruling that the test taken in relation to Boxy was flawed.
He refused Defra permission to appeal, though the department could still make an application directly to the Court of Appeal in a bid to take the case further.
The judge, in rejecting the appeal application, said that it was "really a case about one animal" and the problem had been caused by "making a policy mountain out of what was a farm molehill".
He added: "I do not think further litigation should be encouraged."
Daniel Stilitz QC, for the claimants, said the Jacksons "are not wealthy people" and the case had cost them £28,000.
The judge ordered the defendant to pay £15,000 costs within 14 days.
A Defra spokesman said: "We are naturally disappointed by this judgment and will carefully consider its implications and our next steps, including whether to appeal.
"The judgment does not, however, undermine our comprehensive TB-testing regime for cattle."