Worcester Evening News April 2001

MOTORISTS wept as they watched sheep being slaughtered by Ministry of Agriculture officials beside a busy Worcester dual-carriageway.

The slaughtermen have been condemned as "barbaric" for culling a flock in full view of passing travellers yesterday.

One motorist said his wife was "extremely distressed" after witnessing the killings.

The field where the slaughtermen were shooting the sheep runs adjacent to Swinesherd Way, in Whittington.

"I can't believe that we can't put some sort of cover so we don't have to witness this barbarism," said Maurice James, whose wife, Diane witnessed the shootings.

"She's extremely distressed by what she saw. It's absolutely disgusting. I've had to drive down the road on my way to Stourbridge and it's a disgusting sight.

"We know this is what has to be done, but we don't have to make it public viewing."

Fifty-eight-year-old Mr James, of London Road, Worcester, said his father's pigs were slaughtered during the last outbreak, in 1967.

"They were taken away out of sight. This is absolutely deplorable," he said.

"Families will have driven past it and would have seen the slaughter.

"How many other people will have travelled along the road, and how long will the carcases stay there before they're destroyed?

"Tony Blair is urging people to visit the countryside, but I wonder what visitors to Worcester thought yesterday."

One passenger wept at the sight.

"It was terrible," said Annette Robinson, of Warndon. "We drove past the fields on our way to Pirton and the lambs were running around. But, on the way back, my husband and I saw them being killed.

"You could hear the shot and see them going down."

The Ministry of Agriculture said that it was the slaughtermen who decided how animals were killed.

"They have to slaughter where animals are, they cannot be moved," said a MAFF spokeswoman.

"This is most unfortunate but we can't seek to hide it. It's coming home to all of us in different ways, and that might be another way."

The sheep belonged to the owners of Mill Farm, Spetchley, and Woodhall Farm, Norton.

They were slaughtered on suspicion of foot-and-mouth, believed to be connected to the infections at Kempsey.