Slaughtermen suspended in wake of animal campaign cruelty video

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SLAUGHTERMEN from one of the country’s biggest pork factories have been suspended after a shocking undercover video made by the Animal Aid campaign.

The video appears to show cigarettes being jabbed into the faces of live pigs and a pig being punched in the head, as well as misuse of electric goads.

Animal Aid says the footage was shot at the slaughterhouse of Cheale Meats, near Brentwood, in Essex.

A lawyer for the company has been quoted saying his clients could not accept “the activities shown on this video relate to their premises”.

But the Food Standards Agency, which runs the slaughterhouse inspectorate, said last night it had acted on “footage taken by Animal Aid at Cheale Meats in Essex”.

The FSA statement went on: “The footage shows pigs being abused and manhandled in breach of animal welfare legislation. The FSA revoked the licence of one of the slaughtermen identified in the footage. The other slaughterman who featured in the footage was in possession of a provisional licence, which has now expired and has not and will not be renewed.”

However, the FSA went on to repeat the line it took the last time it was presented with apparently damning footage from undercover investigators – also from Animal Aid. Several slaughtermen had their licences suspended then. But the possibility of prosecutions was not pursued, because government lawyers said the films could have been ruled inadmissible on grounds of trespass.

Yesterday’s statement said: “The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs decided in July 2010 as a matter of policy that it would not be appropriate for Defra to rely on evidence provided by a third party that it could not obtain under its own statutory powers.”

Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid commented: “Since we first began investigating English slaughterhouses, we have been pressing everyone involved to act decisively to end the cruelty. At first, they promised action. But now their words ring hollow. If Defra won’t prosecute these flagrant breaches of the law, who is there to stop animals from being abused at the most vulnerable time of their lives?”