[Here DEFRA killed an entire £500,000 herd purely due to their crap paperwork (assuming it wasn't deliberate), without any compensation. How's that for State Terrorism? Anyone who stood up to them with Foot and mouth (FMD) will know what they are capable of--50 farmer suicides thanks to them.]
March 2007 (Private Eye)
Down on the Farm last month David Dobbin, 43, of Backford near Chester, was the owner of a 567-strong dairy herd which represented his entire livelihood. Several of his cows had won prizes and the herd's value was well over half a million pounds.
In 2005 Defra officials inspected the voluminous documentation required for his cattle under EC rules, including "passports" and numbered ear tags for each animal, and found what they claimed to be a number of unspecified irregularities. Instead of discussing how these could be sorted out, Defra last November asked Cheshire trading standards officials to seize all his passports, making it illegal for him to move any animals off his farm and virtually wiping out his income.
Last month the officials removed his entire herd to another farm elsewhere in Cheshire, stating that it was their intention to destroy all 567 animals. Their authority, they claimed, was an EC regulation, 494/98, issued at the height of the BSE panic. This lays down that "if the keeper of an animal cannot prove its identification within two working days, it shall be destroyed without delay under the supervision of the veterinary authorities, and without compensation from the competent authorities". Although these powers given to ministry officials were quite unprecedented, the regulation only permitted them to destroy animals which could not be identified. Defra has never claimed that the paperwork for most of Mr Dobbin's cows was not in order.
Thanks to his Liverpool lawyers, Kirwans, Mr Dobbin managed to get a High Court injunction, giving his cows a stay of execution less than an hour before the slaughter was due to begin. He also then won leave from Mr Justice Goldring for judicial review on the grounds that Defra was acting way beyond its legal powers. But at the beginning of this month Defrainsisted that unless Mr Dobbin could prove the identification of every single one of his cows, they must still all be destroyed. Since all his cattle passports - the most obvious means of identification - had been confiscated, this was impossible. The officials said he would instead have to provide individual DNA identification for each animal within two days, which would also have been physically impossible - not least since the cows had all been moved to another location to which Mr Dobbin was not allowed access.
On 6 March, therefore, the High Court had no choice but to give Defra's officials permission to proceed with the slaughter. The need for this was particularly urgent, they said, because they did not have the resources to look after or milk the cattle properly, and this was causing severe "animal welfare" problems. When informed of the judge's ruling over the phone, Mr Dobbin burst into tears, and on 7 March the destruction of his herd began. All he can hope for now is that the judicial review, set for nine months' time, might at least confirm that Defra acted beyond its powers. But in the meantime this is scant consolation for the sight of his entire life and livelihood going up in smoke just because Defra's officials have been so . zealous in exercising for the first time powers greater than any given to British officials before them. For the pleasure of ruining a man's life and killing nearly 600 healthy animals for no practical purpose, it must seem a small price to pay.
Papers were not in order, so they had to die
Of all the stories I have covered about what is now called the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, few have been more remarkable than the disaster that has just befallen David Dobbin, a 43-year-old Cheshire farmer, who derived his entire livelihood from a large dairy herd. His 567 cows, including pedigree Ayrshires and Holsteins, had won prizes, and were worth upwards of £500,0000.
In 2005 Cheshire trading standards officials, acting for Defra (one hopes Cheshire's taxpayers do not mind officials whose salaries they pay acting for a government department) began a long series of visits, to inspect the documentation required for Mr Dobbin's cattle under EC rules. The more they attempted to check the animals' eight-digit ear tags against their EC "cattle passports", the more they claimed to have found "irregularities", although they failed to explain how many or what these were.
Last November, on Defra's instructions, the officials seized all Mr Dobbin's passports, making it illegal for him to move animals off his farm and all but wiping out his income. Last month, serving him with a "notice to identify", they removed his herd to another farm, stating that, under EC regulation 494/98, it was their intention to destroy all 567 animals.
Dating back to the BSE panic, this diktat says that "if the keeper of an animal cannot prove its identification in two working days, it shall be destroyed without delay" and "without compensation". These powers, as I noted when the regulation was issued in 1998, were unprecedented. Nevertheless the regulation permits officials to destroy only animals that cannot be identified. Defra has never claimed that the paperwork for most of Mr Dobbin's cows was not in order, only that the officials had found "what they believed to be an unacceptable level of non-compliance with the regulations", and that this "could have serious implications for the protection of the human food chain".
Less than an hour before slaughter was due to begin, Mr Dobbin's combative Liverpool lawyer, David Kirwan, got a High Court injunction, giving the cows a stay of execution. He also won leave from Mr Justice Goldring for judicial review, on the grounds that Defra was acting beyond its powers. But this month, as the injunction expired, Defra insisted that, unless Mr Dobbin could prove the identification of every one of his animals, they must still be destroyed. Since all his passports, the most obvious means of identification, had been confiscated, this was impossible.
Defra told the court that Mr Dobbin would instead have to provide DNA identification for each animal, within two days. This would have been technically impossible, even if Defra had not moved the cows elsewhere and refused him access.
The need to proceed with the slaughter, Defra argued, was urgent, because it had no resources to look after the cattle properly, causing severe "animal welfare" problems. The judge felt he had little option but to give the go-ahead, and on March 8 and 9 the cows were destroyed.
All Mr Dobbin can now hope for is that the judicial
review may confirm that Defra acted outside the law. The officials
agreed in court that they had never used these powers on anything like
such a scale before. It has not been claimed that Mr Dobbin's animals
posed any health risk (BSE this year is down to a single case). His only
alleged offence was "non-compliance" with complex bureaucratic
procedures, to an extent which Defra still cannot specify. For this he
has seen his livelihood go up in smoke, without a penny in compensation.
Madness is light-bulb shaped
It is hard to recall any action by the EU crazier than the "great Euro-bulb blunder": the decision by its 27 heads of government to ban the sale of our familiar incandescent light bulbs from 2009. As the EU's 490 million citizens will discover to their horror, the "low energy" compact fluorescent bulbs these politicians want to make compulsory, in their self-regarding desire to "save the planet", have immense drawbacks.
They are larger and uglier than normal bulbs. For a wide range of purposes they cannot be used (as with dimmer switches or as security lights). They contain toxic mercury, which the EU itself is trying to ban. To run them efficiently means leaving them on so long that any energy savings are minimised. Furthermore, a Defra report last year found that more than 50 per cent of existing light fittings in UK homes cannot take the new bulbs and would have to be replaced, at a cost running into billions of pounds.
Interestingly, the three market leaders in compact
fluorescent lamps (CFLs), including Philips and Siemens, have been
lobbying Brussels hard on this issue. They have already won a 66 per
cent duty on CFLs imported from China and the Far East, to ensure that
these remain much more expensive than normal bulbs. But even Philips has
said that to effect a changeover throughout the EU would need 10 years.
In ruling that it must be done in just two, those politicians, who
cannot have taken any technical advice before indulging in such an
absurdly dictatorial gesture, seem finally to have taken leave of their
How the UK flouts the law to serve Iran
The ruthlessness with which our Government enforces EU law against its citizens strikingly contrasts with its eagerness on occasion to flout EU law itself. One of the murkier chapters in our foreign policy in recent years has been the Foreign Office’s readiness to appease the dictatorial regime in Iran, for reasons not unconnected to a series of huge trade deals.
In March 2001 Jack Straw, then Home Secretary, placed on the list of terrorist organisations, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the leading Iranian dissident organisation, the People’s Muhajedeen of Iran (PMOI), even though the PMOI claims to be opposed to terrorism in any way and wishes only to carry on its campaign for freedom and democracy in Iran in a peaceful fashion. Mr Straw last year admitted to the BBC that he had done this at the behest of the Teheran regime.
Later that year, after 9/11, the EU drew up its own list of prescribed organisations and individuals linked to terrorism, and in May 2002, at the UK’s behest, the PMOI was added to the list. With its assets thus frozen and its activities drastically circumscribed, the PMOI petitioned the European Court of Justice that the EU Council of Ministers had acted improperly, on a whole range of grounds.
In February 2003 the UK Government became the only EU state to join the case as a third party. Last December, the ECJ found in the PMOI’s favour, ruling that it had never been given a fair hearing and that its name should never have been put on the list of terrorist organisations. Nevertheless, in January, again on the UK Government’s insistence, the Council of Ministers told the PMOI that, regardless of the court’s ruling, its name would remain on the list.
The deadline for any appeal against the judgment has now passed. In its zeal to appease one of the most ruthless and dangerous regimes in the world, the British Government has thus persuaded its "partner"’ simply to put up two very large fingers to EU law. Would that a similar response was open to all those who fall foul of EU law here in Britain.
A prize-winning herd of cattle worth £500,000 were slaughtered because of a row over Government paperwork.
David Dobbin's 567 cows were seized by officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who claimed he had broken strict European rules over their identification.
But because the department could not care for the animals, a judge ordered the herd - which included pedigree Ayrshires and Holsteins - to be killed.
Despite being stripped of his livelihood overnight, Mr Dobbin, 43, is not entitled to any compensation. He is seeking damages from Defra, who he says acted unlawfully, and has sought a judicial review of its actions.
His solicitor, David Kirwan, said: "Mr Dobbin's experience is yet another example of the way in which Britain is losing its sovereignty to European interference.
"Brussels is dictating this Kafkaesque bureaucracy on farmers whose livelihoods are being threatened and destroyed."
Mr Dobbin's problems first began two years ago when officials from trading standards, acting for Defra, visited his farm, in Backford, near Chester.
They claimed to have found irregularities between the cattle's EU 'passports' - the documents which monitor the movement of cattle around Europe - and the eight-digit ear tags all cows are required to wear by law.
But Mr Dobbin denied the accusations, saying the inspectors accidentally recorded some numbers incorrectly.
Instead of realising their error, they continued to believe Mr Dobbin's paperwork was not in order because the numbers were repeatedly flagged up on Defra's computer records. As a consequence, the minor issue spiralled out of control and ultimately led to the slaughter of his entire herd.
Mr Kirwan said: "It is absurd that Mr Dobbin's herd has been slaughtered even though he has never been charged, let alone found guilty of any crime.
"He has been punished simply because officials believed he had made mistakes in the complex and often baffling paperwork farmers today are forced to comply with."
Mr Dobbin, who broke down in tears when the order to cull his cows was granted, added: "I'm absolutely distraught.
"I'm appalled the way Defra have conducted this witch hunt against me. I just hope that the judicial review I've been granted will prove that they acted outside the law and will stop them putting any other farmers through a similar nightmare."
In November 2006, Defra seized the herd's passports and last month Mr Dobbin was issued with a 'notice to identify' order. His cattle were seized and transported to a secret location.
Defra officials said that unless Mr Dobbin proved the identity of his animals within two days they would be killed. After frantic negotiations, Mr Kirwan managedto get a stay of execution, in the form of an injunction from a High Court judge, with just minutes to spare.
But earlier this month the injunction expired.
Defra claimed that the need to slaughter had become urgent because there were severe "animal welfare" problems.
This time, the judge ruled in Defra's favour and the animals were killed on March 8 and 9.
It is the first time a farmer's entire herd has been culled by Defra under such powers.
"No amount of damages can replace the emotional loss Mr Dobbin has suffered through the slaughter of his herd," Mr Kirwan added.
A Defra spokesman said: "Inspectors found what they believed amounted to an unacceptable level of non-compliance with the regulations relating to the identification and tracing of cattle. This could have had serious implications for the protection of the human food chain and Defra considered itself under a duty to destroy the cattle."