Horse abattoir case dropped amid FSA criticism

Animal welfare charges against workers at the Red Lion horse abattoir have been dropped, in a case which has created criticism of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The news comes a month after another case relating to horse passports, involving five workers of the same Norwich abattoir, also known as Turners, was dropped by the FSA – a decision which was deemed a “triumph for good sense” by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS).

The most recent case brought against father and son Derek Lesley Turner, 80, and Derek William Turner, 41, for “permitting horses to sustain avoidable excitement, pain or suffering” has been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) due to insufficient evidence.

The case was based on undercover video footage from animal rights groups, which reportedly showed workers stunning horses in the presence of other horses and hitting a horse with a knotted piece of rope to keep it under control prior to it being slaughtered for meat.

Leading agricultural lawyer David Kirwan of law firm Kirwans, who represented the Turners has criticised the FSA and CPS for their handling of the case, which he said was sloppy and shambolic.

“The CPS was exclusively reliant on covert video footage obtained illegally by a non-regulatory body. There was no evidence that suggested the Turners, who do not appear in any of the footage, knew what was happening let alone ‘permitted’ it as they were accused of.

“This matter dragged on well beyond the permitted six-month time frame for charges to be brought, again illustrating what a dysfunctional body the Food Standards Agency is. The allegations should have been dismissed long ago, not allowed to fudge and fester to our clients’ detriment for almost two years.

“The FSA did not progress the investigation sufficiently and when they finally passed their file over to the CPS, the case was out of time. The publicly funded FSA is bungling its way through gung-ho prosecutions with little understanding and seemingly no regard for the British farming community.”

The FSA refuted the allegations made by Kirwans and told Meatinfo.co.uk: “Kirwans has got its facts wrong: the FSA submitted its investigation report to the CPS well within any statutory time bars for prosecution.”

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