Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 17:27 UK

Farmers lose fight over bovine TB

Cattle
The group had wanted the judge to order re-tests

A group of organic farmers from Somerset have lost a High Court battle to stop the slaughter of dairy cattle that tested positive for bovine TB.

The Higher Burrow Organic Farming Partnership had asked a judge to order re-tests after contradictory results emerged from Defra tests.

The court heard TB was wreaking havoc in Britain's organic dairy herds.

But Mr Justice Mitting ruled Defra's current policy on TB testing lawful and rejected the judicial review appeal.

'Potentially disastrous'

Initially more than 430 animals on Higher Burrow farm at Kingsbury Episcopi, were tested.

Of those 14 tested positive through the skin tests - but as many as 86 tested positive in blood tests, while eight results were indeterminate.

Hugh Mercer QC, for High Burrow, said the two sets of tests showed "a massive disparity".

He argued slaughter without re-testing would be "unlawful, irrational and disproportionate".

But Mr Justice Mitting, sitting at London's High Court, said: "The policy is lawful.

"The outcome - unhappy and potentially disastrous though it may be - flows from it."

After the hearing farm boss Chris Aplin said he would consider seeking permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Aplin said: "I think it is totally unreasonable that re-testing should not be considered in these exceptional circumstances."


SEE ALSO
TB 'puts dairy farming at risk'
11 Apr 06 |  England

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