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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Shambo slaughter backed by court
Shambo the bullock is groomed by Brother Jamie at Skanda Vale,
Shambo the bullock is being kept in a special enclosure
The Court of Appeal has overturned a decision to block the slaughter of Shambo, the "sacred" temple bullock.

The six-year-old animal, which is kept in a Carmarthenshire temple by Hindu monks, has tested positive for TB.

The Skanda Vale community said it was "devastated" by the decision and vowed to continue to find ways of saving him.

The Welsh Assembly Government said there was no timetable but it wanted to act with "the minimum of distress to the animal and its carers."

The community has fought a hard campaign since the TB test returned positive in April, saying they were guarding against Shambo infecting other animals.

But they have faced opposition from many quarters, including farmers, who say the diseased animal provides a threat to the spread of TB among their herds.

We will now be looking to move forward but it is not possible to give any timetable at this stage
Welsh assembly government

A week ago, High Court judge Gary Hickinbottom ruled that destroying Shambo, which is being kept at the community in Llanpumsaint, would be unlawful.

He said two slaughter orders had failed to give enough weight to the rights of the monks. But on Monday the appeal court in London upheld the assembly government's appeal.

Lord Justice Pill, sitting with two judges who heard the case in Cardiff last week, said former rural affairs minister Jane Davidson acted lawfully when she refused to make an exception for Shambo as a sacred bull.

The judge said: "I have come to the conclusion that the minister was entitled to make the decision she did in regard to the very considerable problem presented by bovine TB.

Entrance to Skanda Vale
Shambo is housed in a temple in the grounds of Skanda Vale

"The decision to eliminate the risk by slaughter and not to permit an exception to the slaughter policy was, in my judgment, justified.

He said the decision was justified even though Shambo's slaughter would be considered by the community as a sacrilegious act and "a very grave and serious interference with their religious rights".

But reacting to the decision, Swami Suryananda of the Skanda Vale Temple said the latest court decision seriously disregarded the principal tenets of the Hindu religion.

"We are devastated that an animal in our care might be taken away for slaughter, even though it hasn't yet been proven to be a threat to anyone.

"We have consistently asked for other tests to be done to verify if Shambo does have bovine TB.

'Uniform approach'

"It seems ridiculous to kill him and then carry out a post mortem to confirm if he does or does not have TB."

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said killing Shambo would be a "grave desecration".

He said: "To kill such an important symbol of the Hindu religion on the basis of a subjective and unreliable test is not only incomprehensible but also sacrilegious."

However, NFU Cymru president Dai Davies welcomed the decision, saying there must be "consistency and a uniform approach to upholding the law".

Mr Davies said: "As a farmer I have every sympathy with anyone who has to have their livestock slaughtered due to bovine TB, however TB must be eradicated..we can't have exceptions to the rule."

The spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said it had been a "difficult case" for all involved.

"We are glad that the court has accepted the important public and animal health arguments in this case," he said.

"We will now be looking to move forward but it is not possible to give any timetable at this stage."

The spokesman said they aimed to work closely with the community to resolve the situation "with the minimum of distress to the animal and its carers."


SEE ALSO
Angry reaction to Shambo ruling
16 Jul 07 |  South West Wales
Anxious wait at Shambo's temple
12 Jul 07 |  South West Wales
Timeline: Shambo
12 Jul 07 |  Wales

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