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”.