Entry 1 - Help! Cruelly Dragged Towards The Brexit Door.
In 2011 I helped to set up Thanet Against Live Exports. A campaign group dedicated to stopping the export of live farm animals from Ramsgate for slaughter in Europe. The group arranges regular demonstrations at the port of Ramsgate whenever there is a shipment of animals leaving for Europe. We have organised public meetings, marches and rallies and petitions. We have mobilised strong support and have a high profile in the local and regional media. We have also engaged with animal welfare charities and politicians. The RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming both support our campaign and Green Party leader Natalie Bennet and MEP Keith Taylor actively back us visiting Ramsgate and meeting with campaigners.
|slaughtered sheep Ramsgate Port 2012|
This appallingly brutal trade has operated out of Ramsgate (and occasionally Dover) ports for almost 5 years. In that time at least a hundred thousand sheep and claves have passed through Ramsgate on extremely long journeys in cramped, unhygienic conditions and with limited access to food and water, to meet a grisly end in Europe. So badly have these animals been treated by the exporters that in September 2012 47 sheep had to be destroyed at Ramsgate because they had been injured during travel or were otherwise too unfit to continue their journey across the channel to Calais.
Following investigations by DEFRA and Kent County Council Trading Standards the exporters were convicted of serious breaches of animal welfare rules at Dover Magistrates Court in March 2014. The owner of Channel Livestock, Thomas Lomas was handed down a suspended gaol sentence of 6 months and he and his company had to pay fines and costs of £20,000. Justice seen to be done you might say. But no, not quite. Whilst UK law had rightly punished the animal abusers, EU law rewarded the same abusers with wealth beyond their dreams and penalised severely those who sought to prevent the abuse. Here’s how it happened.
Following the horrific destruction of the 47 sheep in September 2012, Thanet Council suspended any further exports pending a review of animal welfare facilities at the port. In October 2012, the exporters successfully applied to the High Court to overturn the suspension and the trade resumed. In December 2013 the High Court ruled that the suspension of animal exports was in breach of EU free trade rules and that Thanet Council was liable to pay the exporters compensation. As of February 2016 Thanet Council had paid out an astonishing £4.2 million in legal fees and damages to the exporters with more payments yet to make. That’s the equivalent to date of £30 for every man, woman and child in Thanet.
So we have the utterly perverse situation whereby people convicted of animal welfare abuse under UK Law, have been handsomely rewarded under EU law for perpetrating that same barbaric cruelty and suffering against what the EU agrees are fellow sentient beings. And the local authority which acted to stop the cruelty occurring at the port it owns, was forced by the EU to pay a reward to the abusers from taxpayers money. This is fucking well unbelievable. No matter how stoned or pissed you might be you couldn’t make this shit up. But it doesn’t end there. Not by a long chalk.
The Kent Constabulary who deploy large forces of officers at Ramsgate Port whenever there is a live export shipment, have probably spent £3million in policing the demos. This doesn’t include the cost of the secret spying on anti-live export campaigners which they also carry out. I discovered in 2015, following the submission of a Subject Access Request, that I had been under Police surveillance since 2011 and probably still am, and that my details are on the so-called domestic extremism database. Nor does it count the cost of the dozens of campaigners, such as myself, who have been arrested, charged and taken to court on the basis of the most tenuous of evidence for lawfully protesting against this vile trade. Furthermore, the poor old council must spend more on security whenever there is a live export shipment, and the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency must pay the wages of its inspectors who are despatched to Ramsgate to oversee every shipment. I reckon that over the past 5 years somewhere in the region of £9million of public money has been spent by public bodies in facilitating a cruel trade which most people despise.
I have sent many a happy hour speaking to the Green Party’s MEP, Keith Taylor, about this. Optimistic and cheerful as always, even Keith reckons it will take years to change the EU directives and treaties which support this medievally cruel trade. In fact it might never happen at all, he has said to me. But looking through the Brexit door there is one single Act of Parliament, the Ports and Harbours Clauses Act 1847, and one sentence in that Act, which needs to be changed to ban the export of live farm animals for slaughter form our quaysides. It could be done in months of Brexit, which compared to Keith’s Herculean task of changing EU rules, is a piece of piss.
But above all else what’s pushing me towards that Brexit door is the imagine burned in my mind of £4million being handed over, on the orders of the EU, to convicted animal abusers as a reward for inflicting that abuse. Needless to say that money is dripping with blood.