August 23, 2013
NFU win injunction against Badger Cull Protesters
Anti-harassment injunction granted by the High Court
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) successfully obtained an injunction against Badger Cull protesters. The NFU applied for an injunction to prohibit harassment of farmers, land owners and those involved in the Badger Cull pilot schemes.
The NFU’s evidence showed that to date there had been significant harassment of farmers and land owners. The licences from Natural England authorising the killing of badgers requires there to be access for culling over at least 70% of the total land area in each Cull Zone. A number of public statements from anti-cull groups indicated an intention to pressurised land owners to drop out by illegal means including blackmail with the object of reducing land access to below 70%.
Individuals had been the subject of threatening letters, repeated telephone calls through the night and publication of addresses and phone numbers (with a direction to register them with PPI call back companies). One letter read “may you and your family die a slow and lingering and very painful death”. An arson attack on a tractor was suspected to be related to an anti-cull protest. There were also threats of future harassment and criminal activity – including false imprisonment by locking those carrying out the cull in fields.
It was emphasised in Court that the primary concern of the National Farmers Union was to prevent the harassment of those involved or believed to be involved the badger cull pilot scheme. The NFU acknowledged that the badger cull is controversial and had no wish to prevent legitimate protest or stifle debate.
The Badger Trust was joined as an interested party. The Defendants included representatives of the Coalition of Badger Action Groups, Squat the Cull, the Gloucestershire Badger Defenders as well as “Persons Unknown” participating in unlawful activity designed to harass those involved in the badger cull.
Mr Justice Turner held he was satisfied that an injunction should be granted and that the definition of persons unknown should include those “protesting against the cull” rejecting a submission that this was too wide.
5RB’s Christina Michalos (instructed by Foot Anstey Solicitors) acted on behalf of the Claimants.