The Unintended Consequences of Laws Surrounding The Current Management of m.b. T.B. By Deborah Mallender

Government has responsibility to ensure that information it receives is a true representation of a situation and consult a spectrum of stakeholders. Looking at the example of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee it does endeavour to do this. With the courts and justice system this does not seem to be the case. There is evidence of miscarriage of justice by the very people charged with carrying out best practice in a public office, in this case the CPS.  This has been clearly identified in The Unintended Consequences of Laws Surrounding m.b. T.B. as being a cause for public concern.  The government must look at what its agencies are doing and ensure that multiple miscarriages of justice are corrected . It is a matter of ethics for an agency to act in a none partisan manner, with any partisan approach having potential to interfere in scientific best practice.  The CPS made an assumption who and what was appropriately qualified to provide evidence to their ‘public consultation’ on Sentencing Guidelines and tariffs.  This assumption appears in turn to be made on the basis of self labelling by a particular lawyers group. A lawyers group without a single scientific qualification calling themselves environmental lawyers.

To those working in industry which requires scientific and technical knowledge this is seen not only as a let down, but also of questionable ethical standards from a publically funded organisation.

Based on research evidence found in a partisan journal or article, farmers may be criminalised if this research is presented as fact in a court by either the lawyer or expert witness, and accepted by the magistrate.

The farmer has no such ethics journal or article to draw upon in reply.  Criminalisation and victimisation by stealth occurs, and it is both difficult and expensive to defend.  Hence injustice is compounded.  There are other steps in the legal process that adds to this injustice and strict liability is certainly one.  Regardless whether the incident was the fault of the farmer or not the farmer is fined and criminalised regardless.  It gives the impression of a remote system of justice detached from all parts of society except that which it identifies with in an ideological and/or idiosyncratic way.  Strict liability for incidents surrounding farming and environmental laws and/or animal welfare laws must be revisited and open to transparent discussion.

Systemic ethical failings identified in  the above research have meant that the farmer and veterinarian personnel are bearing the consequences of a small section of society’s belief system.  Small sections of society identified as being without appropriate technical training or scientific qualification, cherry picking what is cruel and defining what is ethical.

The concern is, listening to the unqualified, has led to excellent scientific research in disease control conducted by the Wellington team, work which has been tested and retested, being left in limbo by the government.  As a result there is government inertia, instead of dealing with in a considered technical and scientific manner, the huge problem of Tuberculosis in wildlife in England.

The consequences for the farmer are most profound and potentially life threatening.  There are legal remedies that the farmer can take.  Veterinarians may have recourse through their professional associations as well as legal remedies.

The recall of the T.B. Eradication Action Groups is an essential part of disease control.  There needs to be open stake holder discussion in light of new scientific developments.

An objective review of the laws identified in this work in the round is certainly indicated.  This has to be fair, ethical and transparent public consultation which involves all stakeholders.  Government must consider and act on the excellent technical and scientific evidence available to them.  We must learn the lessons from history, the law must catch up with scientific knowledge without further delay, and within any ethical discussion surrounding any variety of Tuberculosis , science must be the final arbiter.