Update: Read the full terms of the injunction ruling here.
A High Court judge has granted the NFU and a number of other claimants an interim injunction to protect farmers in and around the pilot cull areas from unlawful actions by those opposed to the badger cull.
The injunction will prevent those opposed to the cull from carrying out a number of unlawful acts against farmers and landowners. Speaking after the judgment, NFU President Peter Kendall welcomed the decision.
“Let’s be clear from the start, this has never been about preventing people from holding legitimate and legal protests. This injunction is about stopping those intent on totally unacceptable incidents of harassment and threats made against a number of farmers and landowners in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset by those opposed to the badger cull.
“For beef and dairy farmers dealing with TB on their farms, these badger culls are an essential part in the fight against this terrible disease. Opinion is divided, so, while we recognise that not everyone agrees with the government’s TB eradication policy, and the need to cull badgers to start to reduce this disease in cattle, we do acknowledge their legitimate right to hold peaceful protests. What we cannot condone are the actions being used by extreme activists designed to harass, intimidate and threaten others.
“We have got to remember that at the heart of this are families. Families with children, grandchildren; families trying to get on with their lives. It is absolutely unacceptable to us that any of these law-abiding people should be subjected to such a sustained campaign of intimidation. As the court heard, these are parents with young children, these are grandparents, these are people like you and I. Some of these families have been subject to intimidation, at times involving very small children, with alarms set off during the night, they’ve been spied on, they’ve been filmed and they have been threatened with private information released on a regular basis. They’ve had abusive phone calls through the night, they’ve had threatening letters and messages, and they have had strangers verbally abuse them at their own homes.
“If it was your family, your children, your grandparents- imagine how you would feel.
“On top of this they are living and working on farms that are already battling to get on top of TB, a disease that saw 38,000 cattle slaughtered in Great Britain alone in 2012. I ask you to think about the kind of individuals who would want to intimidate these people.
“I want to be clear that this injunction prevents the kind of illegal action I’ve just described. It does not prevent peaceful legal protest. The NFU has always recognised the right to protest within the law. This injunction will have no impact on those people who have a viewpoint which they want to express lawfully.
“I hope that this injunction will mark an end to the feeling among some groups of people that threats of violence and a campaign of harassment and intimidation are acceptable ways to make your voice heard in a democratic society.
“The families who have been targeted will be grateful for the court’s decision today. And I ask for the public to continue to back British farming during this difficult time.”