Animal rights protest was OTT

Posted: 2nd February 2015

RCJThe High Court has dealt sternly with an animal rights campaigner whose opposition to the culling of badgers in the West Country crossed the line of acceptability into harassment.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) took the man to court after he caused distress to an elderly farmer by filming him shortly after he had shot and killed a badger. He later posted the footage online. He had also trespassed on another farmer’s land, blowing a whistle in an attempt to disperse badgers due to be culled.

He had also strayed within an exclusion zone whilst picketing NFU offices. His actions took place against the background of culling of badgers in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire which was meant to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis and which had been authorised by the Government.

The Court found him guilty of nine breaches of a court order which placed strict limits on the activities of anti-cull protesters. His deliberate and defiant contempt of court clearly crossed the custody threshold; however, the court imposed a suspended, six-month, jail term after he apologised. The Court noted that his actions had not involved violence or damage to property. He was, however, ordered to pay the NFU’s substantial legal costs on a punitive basis.