Fresh legal challenge can be brought over badger culling

THE BADGER Trust has won permission to bring a new legal challenge over the Government’s badger cull policy.

A judge has granted the trust permission to seek a High Court ruling that there has been an unlawful failure to put in place an independent expert panel to oversee this year’s planned cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Trust lawyers contend the panel is needed to assess properly the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation.

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They argue a court ruling is required before decisions are taken in respect of any further culls around the country.

The application for judicial review is against Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and also Natural England.

The trust says it has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor last year’s cull.

It is expected that the latest culls will start during August, the same month as last year.

London’s High Court has ordered an expedited hearing of the trust challenge so that it can take place quickly.

The trust’s chief executive, Dominic Dyer, said of Mr Paterson: “His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.

“The caring, compassionate British public will not remain silent whilst poorly trained NFU contract gunmen move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns without any independent monitoring or scrutiny. We know from last year’s culls that many badgers were wounded and suffered long, painful deaths in a disastrous operation.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”