Alpaca at the centre of four-year battle will be killed
A beloved £15,000 alpaca is set to be killed after a farmer lost a last-ditch High Court bid to save the animal, who was sentenced to die for contracting bovine TB four years ago.
Helen Macdonald's alpaca Geronimo was ordered to be slaughtered after twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTb) at her Wickwar, Gloucestershire, farm in 2017.
She has always disputed the original test result - claiming The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is 'relying doggedly on flawed science'.
The experienced alpaca breeder, 48, began a legal battle against the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2018 in an attempt to save her 'very valuable' stud alpaca.
She lost her original High Court bid in 2019 and a district judge signed an 'execution warrant' in May this year allowing the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to seize Geronimo.
On Thursday, the veterinary nurse brought a last-ditch appeal against the warrant to the High Court, arguing that the district judge had made an error.
Despite her plea that Geronimo should be given a third bTB test, Mr Justice Griffiths rejected her appeal and set the second execution warrant for August 5.
She previously argued there was 'overwhelming evidence' which demonstrated that the alpaca was not infected, and said the original test results were 'not reliable'.
In the latest appeal, her barrister Cathryn McGahey QC, said there was 'good reason to believe that Geronimo does not have bTB' and said the alpaca had shown 'not a whisker of symptoms' since the two positive tests in 2017.
She added: 'Our position is two years down the line it is right for the court to take another look.'
The barrister said the postive test results were skewed after he had several, but less accurate, skin tests for bTB, which she compared to the 'bovine equivalent of a lateral flow test'.
Ms Macdonald believes the Geronimo's test came back with a false positive because he had been injected with tuberculin as part of the skin tests.
The farmer told the High Court that as bTB progressed swiftly and Geronimo had not shown symptoms, he should have another test.
Animals such as alpacas, camels and llamas cannot be tested for bTB without Defra's permission - which the department have refused give to Miss Macdonald.
In his judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Griffiths rejected the appeal and said the judge who had signed the warrant was correct.
He explained: 'The judge recognised how sad it is for Miss Macdonald that her alpaca, having being diagnosed with the bacteria... will now be taken from her and put down.
'He said he had a great degree of sympathy for her... perhaps no-one would not feel sorry for Miss Macdonald and Geronimo.
'This is not a case in which the wishes and feelings of Miss Macdonald can be paramount.'
The judge stressed the needed to protect against the 'serious consequences' of bTB.
Mr Justice Griffiths agreed to delay the start of the second execution warrant until August 5 to allow Miss Macdonald to have Geronimo euthanised.