Badger cull based on ‘dodgy statistics’

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The justification for the Government’s badger cull was based on “dodgy statistics” which unintentionally misled MPs, Labour has said.

Shadow Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said MPs had been inadvertently misled after it emerged that official figures overstated the number of cattle herds with tuberculosis in the past two years.

Badgers spread bovine TB among cattle and tackling it was the Government’s main justification for controversially culling the animals. The disclosure that the statistics on bovine TB were wrong is the latest problem to beset the culls which have failed to kill enough badgers in two pilot areas while policing costs spiralled.

Mr Irranca-Davies demanded an oral statement from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on the statistics next week.

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley said urgent work was continuing to fix the computer error which has led to incorrect statistics being published since September 2011.