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4th November 2014
Our Legal Action
I am only too aware that we have spent a great deal of money in fighting culls, both in England and previously in Wales. The total, including legal fees, literature, advertising etc. is now over half a million pounds. It might appear that we have had only limited success with our legal challenges and some might wish to criticise that expenditure, but I should like to elaborate a little on our decision-making. I should also like to thank the team of legal advisers at Bindmans and Matrix for their whole-hearted support and their genuine interest in the subject. They are very conscious that we are a small charity with limited resources and we work closely together to minimise costs.
Firstly, it should be understood that nobody can ever be sure of the result when legal action is contemplated. If they could, there would be no need for the Courts. We do seek, and carefully consider, legal advice before embarking on any litigation. There have been a number of occasions when we have been advised after robust discussions not to proceed and we have then been criticised by some for not acting.
Our most recent action, when we sought a Judicial Review over the Government keeping open the option of a further roll-out, without having an independent expert panel to oversee the second year of culling badgers by free-shooting, resulted in a lengthy and expensive battle. Although the final decision went against us, this has resulted in a most useful side benefit. The legal action taken by Badger Trust highlighted an obvious weakness. We have learnt today that a Journal of the British Ecological Society has offered in an open letter to DEFRA, to conduct an independent assessment of the 2014 pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. An interesting article on this development has been published online by the BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh which can be seen here.
Nobody appreciates more keenly than I do, just what went into raising that half million pounds. As I enter all the cheque donations which sometimes might be £2 plus an apology for not being able to afford more, or occasionally £2,000 of somebody’s hard-earned money, I do have a real feeling for how our supporters appreciate our work. And also, of course, as a member of my local group (who make donations in common with other groups affiliated to Badger Trust) I recall being in the town centre at 7.am on a cold December dawn to set up our sales and information stall for the day. At the time you sometimes wonder if it is worth the effort. But, every little helps, as the advert goes and every penny given is deeply appreciated. The total of all these donations has enabled a determined Badger Trust to contest and highlight all the questionable actions of government with professional legal support. As our CEO Dominic Dyer has stated “We may have lost the legal battle at this stage but we have won in the court of public opinion.” Badger Trust is a single species charity, our objectives are quite clear “working to promote the conservation and welfare of badgers and the protection of their setts and habitats for the public benefit”. We shall never, ever, be deterred from doing everything we can to fulfil those objectives.
Thank you for helping us to help save your badgers.