Helen Macdonald of Alpaca Power, owner of Geronimo, a black stud male imported from New Zealand, has been fighting a legal battle to prevent his slaughter. This is her statement on recent developments.
“On 9 July 2019, Mr Justice Murray sitting in the High Court handed down judgment in Geronimo’s case. Unfortunately, the Judge ruled that the Court does not have the power to quash the Secretary of State’s decision to order the slaughter of Geronimo. As such, the decision to slaughter Geronimo stands. Unless the Court’s decision is successfully appealed, Geronimo will soon be slaughtered. We are in the process of filing an application for permission to appeal, which we expect will be filed by the end of this month. Our hope is that it will be heard as early as possible in the new Court term, which starts in October. In the meantime, the Court has made an order preventing the Secretary of State from slaughtering Geronimo whilst our application is outstanding.
While Mr Justice Murray found that Geronimo’s two positive test results for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) may be inaccurate, he disagreed with our submission that the Secretary of State had behaved irrationally in deciding to slaughter Geronimo. The Judge held that the Secretary of State had given due regard to the conflicting scientific opinions as to the accuracy of the two test results and that, in any event, the two results “provide strong evidence, to a high degree of certainty” that Geronimo is infected with bTB. The Judge also had regard to what he considered to be the “contagious nature of bTB and the devastating effect it can have on other animals, bovine and non-bovine, including the risk to humans.”
We are very disappointed with the High Court’s judgment. We believe that, apart from the two highly questionable test results (based on tests prior to which Geronimo was primed multiple times with tuberculin), all of the evidence indicates that Geronimo is not infected with bTB. Geronimo still displays no clinical signs of bTB, nor do the other alpacas that have been held in isolation with Geronimo for the last two years. It is hard to square these hard facts with a view that Geronimo is in fact infected with this devastating disease.
All we have ever asked is that Geronimo be tested according to a protocol that avoids the scientifically uncertain results of priming a camelid with tuberculin multiple times before subjecting that animal to a bTB blood test. It is part of my duty of care as an owner and my right to expect fair treatment from my government that Geronimo is tested correctly. I am also deeply concerned that the High Court’s decision may have very negative implications for the voluntary surveillance testing of camelids for bTB in this country. This is why we continue the fight by making our application to the Court of Appeal.”
We believe that all of the evidence indicates that Geronimo is not infected with bTB