Blog: Harassment of farmers will not be tolerated

nina winter high court image - banner for staff bl

She writes:

Let’s be frank – if you’re going to cull badgers, activists are going to protest against it. 

More of our staff blogs...

Richard Bramley_275_412NFU Environment Forum member Richard Bramley - How the 'custodians of the countryside' deliver on food too

bethan williams nfu staff head and shoulders_170_2Bethan Williams, CFE project officer - Blog: Pollinators and production hand-in-hand

AnandDossa, NFU economist, edit, staff _200_198Anand Dossa, NFU economist - How Osborne's 'big' Budget delivers NFU manifesto ask

bethanwilliamsnfu staff head and shoulders_170_2Bethan Williams, CFE project officer - Picture a pollinator and win a hectare of wildflower mix

Lee AbbeyLee Abbey, NFU horticulture and potatoes adviser - Our 'can-do' efforts to identify new markets

LTFroadshow with Johnny Ball 2015_275_183NFU roadshow host Johnny Ball - Make them laugh, make them smile and teach them about farming

Tom Fullick_120_160Tom Fullick is our livestock adviser - Sheep splitting, science and the way forward

Tom Price_275_412Tom Price is our health and safety expert - No shortcuts - why safety is a cold-headed business decision

Lawful and peaceful protest is one thing, but harassment and intimidation is quite another.

When the two pilot areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset were granted licences to kill badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB back in 2012, the activists swung into action and farmers across both areas became targets.

We saw widespread unlawful acts of harassment. Farmers were filmed and had videos posted to YouTube, they had their phone numbers posted online and anonymous protesters called them through the night. Farmers and their families were sent threatening texts and letters and activists trespassed on farm and intimidated farmers. It was a frightening and worrying time for many.

The NFU understands protestors want to lawfully and peacefully oppose the cull – that’s their right in a democratic society. But we won’t tolerate farmers being harassed, and so in the summer of 2013 we applied to the High Court and got an injunction to protect farmers and their families in the cull zones.

Sadly, some activists carried on regardless. 

quote mark graphic for web use_63_66
We saw widespread unlawful acts of harassment... It was a frightening and worrying time for many.

One activist in particular, Jay Tiernan, who was reported to be the leader of the Stop the Cull group, went on to breach the injunction and harass farmers. The NFU applied to the High Court for Mr Tiernan to be committed for contempt of court, and, on 21 January this year, the High Court found Mr Tiernan in contempt in respect of nine breaches of the injunction. 

He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Mr Tiernan appealed the High Court’s decision and so last week the NFU was in court again. The Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the High Court. Mr Tiernan was ordered to pay the NFU’s legal costs.

This case was never about stopping peaceful protest. It was about the NFU enforcing the injunction and upholding the rule of law to help protect farmers and their families in the cull zones from harassment and intimidation.