This story by Christopher
Booker in the Sunday
Telegraph serves as a chilling warning to us all, because one day, when we
are all in possession of our ID cards and ePassports, chipped and catalogued, and
if the unelected European Commission gets its way that will be very soon, this story
wont be about the cattle on a farm, it will be about when they come to check which
people are living in your street, or on your estate.
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
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
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
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.
worries me more than the stupid rules and regulations, are the Moron’s who are happy to carry
them out. If they are happy to destroy one man’s entire life without
questioning what they were doing, just wait until they are let loose on entire
estates….compliance, compliance, compliance.
it comes time to round up people, perhaps we will be lucky and only end up in a
Chinese made portable container prison, or RAF Coltishall which is currently
being fitted out for, well for what who knows, the Home office originally said
is was for extra prison places, the following week they said it was for illegal
immigrants, next week…..