Uk (England): 24/08/11 – Slaughterhouse Update – Defra Now Stripped of Its Prosecuting Powers – Great News For Uk Animal Welfare !

Further to our post of 31st July;

we now have some excellent news from Animal Aid.

Now that Defra (a Uk government ministry) has been stripped of its prosecution powers, and the take over of this role by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS); we see this as excellent news for many, many animals within the Uk.  Using the CPS, animal welfare campaigners will be able to by-pass the ianactions of defra and, provided that they have sufficient evidence, will instead be able to provide their data to the CPS with a view to prosecutions being undertaken.

SAV welcome this move and the tremendous work undertaken by Animal Aid.  Defra, since being taken over by the existing government led by David Cameron, have been largely useless in progressing animal welfare within the Uk.  Now hopefully it is time for change – progressive change – a change to help animals.

A day in the Uk to celebrate – that Defra have finally been sent a message; one that they should work towards protecting animal welfare rather than protecting those who cause animal suffering.

Their Press Release issued on 24/08/11 reads as follows:

Defra ‘stripped’ of its prosecution function after slaughterhouse cruelty campaign

A year-long campaign by Animal Aid to have Defra stripped of its prosecution powers has culminated this week in confirmation that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will now take over this role. The news comes in the wake of a media furore caused by Defra’s decision to refuse to prosecute slaughterhouse workers who Animal Aid filmed burning pigs with cigarettes, punching an animal in the head and forcing seriously injured pigs to drag themselves to slaughter.(1)

Animal Aid first drew attention to a conflict of interest within Defra 12 months ago when the government department dropped all outstanding prosecution cases against four slaughterhouse owners and nine employees. The evidence against them had been obtained by Animal Aid using covert, fly-on-the-wall cameras. Animal Aid believes that the decision to abandon these prosecutions was politically motivated (the previous Labour government had investigated and brought criminal charges) and stated publicly its concern that Defra should not be both the industry’s champion and its regulator.

The department’s close ties to the farming and slaughter industries – three of the four Defra Ministers are also farmers, while the fourth worked for the National Farmers Union before becoming an MP – strengthened Animal Aid’s belief that a conflict of interest was inevitable.

Animal Aid had pressed for the independent Food Standards Agency to take on the role of prosecutor and had lobbied MPs to that effect. But an announcement quietly made on the Attorney General’s website on 12th August stated that the CPS would be taking over the role:

‘The Attorney General and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced today the transfer of Defra’s prosecution function to the CPS and the remainder of their legal team to the Treasury Solicitor’s Department… Defra Legal’s five prosecution posts will transfer to the CPS…

‘Defra and the CPS have considered carefully the benefits of the changes and agree that the new structure will provide a better strategic fit for prosecutions. The new arrangement will provide greater resilience in the conduct of Defra prosecutions, and the team conducting those cases would have improved access to the range of specialist teams in the CPS that are not available in a small in-house team. The team would also have access to the CPS’s network of advocates serving courts locally.’(2)

Animal Aid’s Head of Campaigns Kate Fowler welcomed the move, saying:

‘We are heartened that future decisions about slaughterhouse prosecutions will fall to the CPS. Defra is much too close to the industry and, as a result of this, many slaughterhouse workers have escaped prosecution, including some whose actions can only be described as sadistic. We hope that this change will lead to the individuals recently filmed burning, kicking and punching pigs at an Essex slaughterhouse being charged and prosecuted.’

Notes to Editors

For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Fowler or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546 (out of hours 07918 083 774).

We have an ISDN line available for broadcast quality interviews.

Additional Information

 (1) Animal Aid’s slaughterhouse campaign, including the most recent investigation, can be viewed here:

 (2) The statement on the Attorney General’s website can be found here:,FoodandRuralAffairsandtheCrownProsecutionService.aspx

Animal Aid has filmed covertly inside nine UK slaughterhouses since January 2009 and found breaches of the welfare laws in eight of them. The national organisation has convinced ten of the leading supermarkets plus the leading wholesaler, Booker, to insist that their slaughterhouse suppliers install CCTV. It continues to press for an amendment to the law to make CCTV installation compulsory.