Friday, 16 September 2016

A Week of Live Exports

Last week saw an unprecedented 6 live export shipments in 7 days from Ramsgate Port. At least 15,000 sheep were forced to endure many hours   travelling across the country to Ramsgate in massively cramped conditions, standing in their own excrement, with limited access to food and water on some of the hottest days of the year. The onward 4 hours journey across the English Channel to Calais is followed by further hours travelling across Europe to meet a grisly end by cruel ritual slaughter. What’s happening at Ramsgate is animal cruelty on an industrial scale which, in a modern world, is morally, ethically and scientifically indefensible. Yet here in the UK this cruel and barbaric trade is state sponsored and supported by the use of physical force by government employees.

The export of live farm animals for slaughter in the EU has been taking place from Ramsgate, and occasionally Dover, since 2011. To the best of my knowledge these are the only ports in the UK which are hosting this cruel trade. In that time there have been more than 120 shipments which have transported over  a quarter of a million animals to Europe for ritual slaughter.

The business is permitted by European free trade regulations  which treat animals like goods and do not allow for any discretionary opt-out on the grounds of their welfare or preventing cruelty.  In 2012 Thanet District Council, the owner of Ramsgate  Port, imposed a temporary ban on live exports  following the tragic destruction  of 47 sheep at the port-side because they had been injured during the journey to Ramsgate or where otherwise unfit to continue their journey.

The exporters challenged Thanet Council’s ban in the  High Court. The judge ruled that by banning live exports from its port the council had breached EU free trade agreements and that the trade should be allowed to recommence from the port.  This judgment opened the doors to the live animal exporters to seek  compensation for loss of business during the 5 week period in which the trade was banned. To date Thanet Council has paid out a staggering £5 million in compensation to those associated with this cruel trade –  payments which many people, myself included, describe as blood money.  According to Auditors, Grant Thornton LLP, who have just completed the annual audit of Thanet Council’s accounts for 2015-16, there is a significant risk that further compensation will have to be paid to those involved in  the Ramsgate live exports business and that the council should realistically asses and  “provide for this possibility in their forward financial planning”.  

One  of those exporters who received a share of the EU blood money  was  Thomas Edward Lomas. Along with Channel Livestock Ltd, Lomas was convicted by Dover Magistrates in 2014  of  breaching the Welfare of  Animals in Transport Order 2006 and being responsible for the deaths of some of the 47 sheep which had to be destroyed  at Ramsgate Port in 2012. The court handed down costs and fines of over £20,000 to Lomas and Channel Exports and Lomas was sentenced to  a suspended 6 month jail sentence.  Incredible  as it  seems,  Lomas and Channel Livestock although convicted of animal welfare offences, were able to share some of  the  generous compensation being paid by Thanet Council  because the cruel trade they ply had, according to the High Court,   been unlawfully stopped by Thanet Council. In, what can only be described as a travesty of justice, Lomas and Channel Livestock were being handsomely rewarded for  their cruelty!

But it gets worse! Not only were tax-payers forced to pay the £5million blood money (compensation)  to the exporters, but they have had to pay for lots of other things which allow this cruel trade to function. By my estimate at least  £2.5 million has been spend on policing the demonstrations which have taken place at each of the 120  shipments from Ramsgate and Dover since 2011. Another £1.5  million, probably more,  has been spent on the 20 plus prosecutions of anti-live exporter campaigners (most of whom were found not guilty)  and the prosecution of the exporters. I reckon that another £1 million has also been spent processing the travel documentation of the exporters over the past 5 years and sending Government inspectors to check, albeit small samples and then not thoroughly, the animals being loaded on to the ferry Joline at Ramsgate. This means that the taxpayer has paid at the very least £10 million over the past 5 years to permit the export, in appalling conditions,  of 250,000 sheep for ritual slaughter in the EU. That works out to be a stare sponsored “sadism subsidy”  of £40 for each animal. Is it right that when survey after survey demonstrates that most people oppose this cruel trade, out Government is happy to subsidise sadism against animals? Had the Government used taxpayers money and the police force to facilitate the live export for slaughter of  dogs, cats or horses, then I suspect there would be revolution on our streets. Yet just like cats, dogs and horses the 250,000 sheep are sentient beings who experience fear and feel pain.  

Despite feeling overwhelmed by the power and money which has been brought to bear by the British state to  protect  and support  a trade which is so obviously cruel and barbarous,  I remain hopeful that it will be stopped. My faith lies in the fact that support for our campaign in Ramsgate is growing and spreading. This year, especially  during the last couple of  weeks, more and more people have begun to join our  demonstrations, with almost 200 people coming together for a rally and protest against the shipment last Sunday. Many of those joining us are young people who are passionate about animal welfare and I for one am happy to hand over the baton to a new generation who will stand up for what they believe to be right.

My spirits are also  lifted by the fact that internationally a movement against the long distance transportation of live animals is now beginning to take shape. In Europe there is the Stop the Trucks campaign which is supported by dozens of animal welfare groups. Here is  the link to their website  . Internationally there is the Animals Are Not Freight campaign (here is a link to their website ) which on the 29th August organised over 100 events in 33 different countries across the world.  I was honoured to be invited to speak at their rally in London, which was organised by Compassion in World Farming. Cleary a powerful global movement against the cruel and barbaric long distance transportation of animals is now beginning to emerge across the world and Ramsgate is at the forefront of that movement.
I am confident that those people standing up the for the welfare of animals in Ramsgate, like those who stood up against slavery, those who fought for votes for women, and those who campaign against racism and discrimination, are on the right side history and that soon this awful and cruel  trade will banned across the world.


  1. It is clear that Politics and money is heavily involved in this unnecessary trade in Live animals for slaughter, and the fact that is not singular to the UK. But is recognised by many in the Global fight against this brutal trade. PROFIT , POLITICS and RELIGION feature heavily in supporting its continuance. Those fighting against it are silenced by whatever method is necessary , in order that this trade continues . Have you ever tried to get any response from the UK establishment.not an answer to any specific point , but just any answer---- impossible . Everyone knows it is going on, knows what it involves , understands the Politics and the Religion driving it. But declines to be honest about it . Follow this even beyond the long distance transportation of these animals. To the stress, overcrowding , high temperatures lack of ready access to food or water . Go beyond this and witness the slaughter outside of Licensed Abattoirs to as described recently at the time of a sacrificial slaughter " the Rivers of Blood " Is this export from the UK a legal well regulated trade with respect to animal Welfare. ONLY if you are any part of the Politics and religion involved and driving it . Is it necessary ? ONLY if you are involved in it for Profit , Religion or Politics. Will it stop? only if Politics is honest and listens to any part of those members of the electorate who to date have observed it and been close to its existence. There is no one involved in this live animal export for slaughter trade that could defend its existence . To date no one has tried to to defend the impossible, except to say it is legal . What does legal mean ? does it mean it is right or does it mean Politics has approved it . But in order to be legal it must surely in all aspects comply with the EU/UK regulations (I REPEAT in all aspects) In my view that is not the case of Live export Transporters exiting the UK and abiding by the transporter Journey Log approvals issued by DEFRA. That is not happening . In addition it is my view that Transporting live animals for 34 hours on board that transporter cannot be legally done with only one HGV driver on that lorry . Tell me I am wrong DEFRA, Defend in whatever way you can any continuation of this trade designed for religion and religious slaughter . Where are you Politics in this deathly silence. It is a disgrace that the UK should be sanctioning , and be involved in this unnecessary trade in animal slaughter in 2016 . It can be done on the HOOK . Animal Welfare is not or should not be any part of Religion .Certainly the UK should have moved far beyond that !!

  2. What was the Town CLerk Richard Styles letter in Kent on Sunday: his onerous job its putting out the plant pots and Xmas lights? How much are we paying him? the Broadstiars TOwn CLerk is on £40k about the same as Paul Carter running KCC...

  3. Pleasurama - very late but better than nothing:

    Don't pay TDC a penny Ian!