In a case involving Ramsgate live animal exporters Johannes Onderwater and Thomas Lomas and the Government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) the High Court has made a landmark ruling which puts the welfare of animals before the profits of the traders.
The case resulted from a major fall out between animal exporters Onderwater and Lomas which led to a legal dispute about APHA policy on animal transportation. The dispute reached the High Court in November 2018 and the 56 page judgment was published in February 2019.
It would appear that long-established live export trader Thomas Lomas from the Norwich area fell out with Johannes Onderwater, the Dutch owner of the live export ferry Joline which has operated from Ramsgate Port since 2011, over a large, unpaid, debt.
Rather than continuing to export animals from Ramsgate using Onderwater’s ferry Joline, Lomas decided to apply to the Government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) for permission to export his animals for slaughter in the EU via a route from Scotland to Northern Ireland, then to the Republic of Ireland and finally to France.
According to the High Court this is a journey time of approximately 90 hours as opposed to a journey time of 20 hours if Mr Lomas was to have used the Ramsgate/ Joline route to the EU. On the basis of the long journey time the APHA rejected Mr Lomas’ export application arguing that
For reasons of animal welfare the transport of animals over long journeys, including animals for slaughter, should be limited as far as possible (High Court approved judgment
In respect of animal transportation via long journeys from the UK, Defra’s policy has been to refuse authorisation for a journey route other than the shortest route, unless it is shown that the shortest route is not available within a reasonable period of time.
|Convicted Cruel Animal Exporter Thomas Lomas - Credit The Times|
Mr Lomas argued that the Scotland / Ireland / France route was much cheaper than using the Ramsgate/ EU route and that the Joline transportation charges were so high that he would lose money by exporting animals from Ramsgate.
Lomas also claimed that by refusing him permission to export animals via the Irish route, the APHA were, in effect, forcing him to use a transport option which would cause him to lose money. In so doing the APHA were taking actions which would force Lomas out the live export business and that this was in breach of EU free trade regulations. Mr Lomas sought and judicial review and compensation from the APHA for the loss of business caused by its policy.
After investigating Lomas’ claims judge, Mr Justice Morris, concluded that the exporter had failed to prove his financial losses and to demonstrate that the APHA ‘s rejection of his transport plans would unlawfully drive him out business. Lomas’ application for a judicial review of that decision was rejected.
Thomas Lomas was, in February 2013, convicted of serious breaches of animal welfare regulations at Dover Magistrates Court. These breaches led to 2 sheep drowning the more than 40 sheep being destroyed at Ramsgate Port on 12 September 2012. Lomas was fined £4,000, ordered to pay £15,000 costs and given a 6 months suspended prison sentence for committing these horrendous and cruel offences.
By seeking to force animals to endure a 90 hour journey in cramped conditions Lomas has demonstrated, yet again, that he is a cruel and barbaric man with no concern for the welfare of the animals in his care. Thankfully, Mr Justice Morris put paid to Lomas’ plans by ruling that the welfare of animals being transported long distances is more important that the blood money which the animal welfare abusing Lomas hoped to pocket from their suffering during a 90 hours journey by road and two ferries.