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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ramsgate Live Exports: Damages & Legal Costs Set to Rise

Thanet District Council (TDC) faces further damages and legal bills for unlawfully suspending live farm animal exports from the Port of Ramsgate. The six-week suspension was imposed by TDC in September 2012 after 47 sheep, judged to be unfit to travel, had to be destroyed at the port.  The suspension was challenged by the exporters  at the High Court in October 2012. The judge, Mr Justice Birrs, ruled that TDC had unlawfully breached European Union free trade rules and ordered the council  to pay damages to the exporters.

Last month anti-live exports campaigner and former Green Party TDC Councillor, Ian Driver, used the Audit Act 1998 to force TDC to reveal that it had paid out £2.3 million in  damages to the exporters plus  £300,000 in legal bills.
Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by Driver, it now appears that damages and legal costs  for suspending live exports are set to rise even further.  Replying to Driver’s FOI Thanet Council has revealed that an  additional £90,000 in legal fees  was paid out  in 2013-14,  bringing total legal costs to date to  £400,000. TDC also admitted that “there are ongoing legal matters” with the exporters but refused to provide Driver with further information because “the council's financial position would be jeopardised if the details of any current proceedings were to be released into the public domain”.
Said Driver “I’m astounded by the latest revelations. It seems likely that that the final bill for unlawfully suspending live exports from Ramsgate could be approaching £4 million. That’s £67 per household”. He added “these damages are nothing less than the payment of blood money to people engaged in what I believe to be a brutal and cruel trade. In fact several of the people engaged in live exports from Ramsgate have criminal convictions for serious breaches of  animal welfare laws. I have recently had discussions with Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, and we are looking at beginning a campaign in the European Parliament to amend free trade rules to take account of  animal welfare issues. This would prevent animal transporters   from being able to claim damages if a port or harbour was to suspend or  ban them for breaching animal welfare regulations”.

2 comments:

  1. I cannot believe the people of Thanet are not knocking on the council doors!

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  2. Judge Birrs has made a foolish decision and expensive for taxpayers. Of course ports can ban certain businesses just as pubs can ban customers. With the sheep deaths this is animal cruelty issues not academic free trade theory. Well done Ian.

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