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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 08:36 GMT
Legal challenge over mink farm ban
Mink farming was outlawed by Parliament in 2001
A former Tyneside mink farmer is leading a legal challenge against a government ban which put him out of business.

Peter Harrison, of Cornyhaugh, Kirkley Mill, Ponteland, near Newcastle, is one of 10 former mink farmers who want a judicial review into the government's compensation package.

The ban on mink-farming came into effect on January 2003.

Under the Fur Farming Compensation Scheme, those affected are entitled to "fair recompense" for their loss.

Mr Harrison says the government compensation scheme is inadequate.

Animal rights protesters

He wants a High Court judicial review of what he claims is the government's "unfair and arbitrary" stance.

He is joined in the legal challenger by former mink farmers from all over the country.

Mr Harrison, who was a regular target of animal rights protestors, has now ceased trading due to the ban.

Gross underestimate

The other farmers are Ken Shynn, of Porchfield, Isle of Wight; Terry Cartmell, of Whittingham, near Preston, Lancashire; Michael Cobbledick, of Bude, Cornwall; John Duxbury, of Woodplumpton, Preston; TT Smith, of West Stapehill, Dorset; Robert Millis, of Cadeby Road, Doncaster; Tony Coupe, of Longrdidge, Preston; Dan Sawrij, of Halifax, West Yorkshire and Len Kelsall, of Hempstalls Lane, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

Barney Holbeche, of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the compensation scheme had put forward a provisional total estimate of 1.6m for all 10 farmers - a figure he dismissed as a "gross underestimate".

He said a more realistic overall figure would be in the region of 15m.

Cost to public purse

The farmers' solicitor Alex Megaw, accused the government of listening to the views of campaign groups from the anti-fur lobby before assessing fair pay-outs.

Under the terms of the scheme farmers are not entitled to receive full compensation, because of the potential cost incurred by the public purse.

The penalty for illicit mink farming since the ban came into force is a 20,000 fine.

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