Cleared farmer devastated by TB case

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Hefin Owen said he lost two years of farming fighting the charges

A farmer cleared of tampering with TB results has described being "horrified and devastated" after a two year-long battle cost him thousands.

Hefin Owen, a dairy farmer from Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion, was found not guilty of all charges at Aberystwyth County Court.

Aled Owen, the farmer's solicitor told BBC Wales the case "should never have reached the courts".

A Welsh Government spokesman said it was considering the outcome.

Hefin Owen was accused of tampering to force a positive result, after 74 reactors and 21 inconclusive reactors were found in a bovine TB test in 2016.

Aled Owen told BBC Wales: "Circumstantial evidence was used that was limited to certain suspicions that were not justified... samples were taken incorrectly and not in the right places... it was a prosecution built on sand."

'Very bitter'

The prosecution was led by the Lifestyle Services Dept at Ceredigion County Council, following concerns raised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

"It's had a big effect on us as a family," said Hefin Owen. "I'm very bitter... we've lost two years of farming.

"It will take a while to restock and get back. We've still not been paid by the APHA for the 30 cows they culled on our yard in 2016."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "The tuberculin skin test is recognised as the main screening test for TB across the EU and world-wide.

"All Welsh cattle herds have been subject to an annual TB testing regime since 2010 as part of our comprehensive approach to TB eradication in Wales."

Ceredigion County Council said they prosecuted "Mr Hefin Wyn Owen in the public interest, based on allegations made by the Animal and Plant Health Agency", and they accepted the judgment.

APHA and Defra did not wish to comment.

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