I said recently that I would try and write a little more about live animal exports from England.
‘I’ve met the Met, and got the bruises to prove it’.
The history of live animal exports from the UK has been a long and troublesome one; with most Brits supporting a ban on the export and consequent suffering of animals, whilst the exporters, hauliers and those involved in the business / trade sat strongly on the other side of the fence.
I (Mark) come from Kent county (SE England); and with Dover port being in Kent, it was for years a battleground for anti export campaigners and the pro export lobby. At one point, due to relentless and very effective campaigning by good people, Dover harbour banned the export of live animals. As a result, hauliers and exporters turned their attention to other facilities in Southern England to try and get the animals into Europe. Live calves were even flown out of Coventry airport to be crated in Europe; what with the UK boasting a ban on the use of veal crates, was it somewhat hypocritical for UK farmers to then send their calves to Europe to suffer a fate that had been banned in the UK on cruelty grounds ???
and the crating that resulted …
It was during the anti export protests at Coventry that Jill was run down and killed by an export truck:
Exporter Christopher Barrett-Jolley was behind the calf flights from Coventry; he was later jailed for being a Cocaine dealer which resulted in him being given a 20 jail sentence – read about it here:
I personally journeyed many times to Shoreham to take part in anti export protests whilst Dover (my patch) was closed down. There was a massive opposition to the trade as you can see in the film; the Met police from London had to be transported down to the SE port (at huge costs) every time there was a shipment – and in the end, it was these massive costs that stopped the trade from Shoreham. There is an old saying in animal rights protester circles that they met the Met (police) and have the bruises to prove it – please watch the video and decide for yourselves.
In the end after the High Court ruling which was undertaken by live animal exporter Peter Gilder; the trade returned to Dover. But, Shoreham and the unity of locals and the anti export protesters has and will always go down as one of the great stands by the Brits to defend the animals that cannot defend themselves.
April 1995 – Fury as live exports ban is lifted
Wednesday 12 April 1995
Dover is facing the threat of major disruption by protesters against the livestock export trade after a decision yesterday by the High Court that the port authority had acted illegally by banning the live animal traders from the port.
The court also ruled that Coventry airport and Plymouth City Council must allow live animal exports.
The landmark judgment, which in effect ensured the future of the trade for the foreseeable future, was greeted with glee by exporters and horror by animal rights campaigners. Mark Glover, of Respect for Animals, who orchestrated the original mass protests which led to the recent ban, predicted civil disobedience would close Dover to all traffic.
“The judges were calling for the rule of law to be upheld but they’ve wholly ignored the consequences of their judgment. We’ll be calling on all our supporters to take part in all the demonstrations against the trade and that will include Dover,” he said.
Jonathan Sloggett, managing director ofDover Harbour Board, said that when the trade restarted – probably after Easter – he feared there would be disruption for 99 per cent of Dover’s customers for the sake of the 1 per cent of animal export traffic.
He added: “The board has been, and remains, very concerned that the admission to the port of Dover of the trade in live animals for export will cause considerable disruption to all the other users of the port.
“The board very much hopes that all those who sincerely object on moral grounds to the exportation of live animals for slaughter will accept that Dover has a legal duty to admit this trade and cannot lawfully refuse to do so.”
Kent police have previously warned Dover that, in the event of any serious disturbance, the A2 and A20 approach roads to the port would have to be closed, causing widespread disruption. They are now drawing up plans for dealing with fresh protests.
Lord Justice Simon Brown and Mr Justice Popplewell ruled that Dover, Coventry and Plymouth had no right to surrender to “mob-rule” and they must accept the trade regardless of the protests that will ensue.
The judges ruled that the port and airport authorities must accept all lawful trade despite their determined opposition to accepting livestock exports.
The judges severely criticised the authorities for acting out of “narrow self-interest”. Dover and Coventry had warned the court that their operations would be severely hampered or halted by animal welfare campaigners, who would take their protest wherever the trade was conducted.
The authorities argued that the interests of existing port and airport users must take precedence over newcomers. Dover warned specifically that a 250-strong demonstration could be capable of closing Britain’s busiest port.
The judges said the demonstrators should now recognise it was “impossible” for the ports to submit to unlawful protest and accept “the limitations upon their lawful right to protest”.
Lord Justice Simon Brown said: “If ever there were cases demanding the courts’ intervention in support of the rule of law, these are they.
“It may indeed be doubted whether there remains any logic in protesting at the ports: the only body properly able to ban this lawful trade is Parliament itself – unless indeed the Secretary of State is advised that even that would be unlawful under Community law, in which event the only solution lies across the Channel.”
The decision marked a victory for the livestock exporters Peter Gilder & Sons and Russanglia Ltd, who argued that Dover’s decision to ban the trade was unlawful because the port was duty bound to accept all lawful cargoes.
Their victory was shared by Phoenix Aviation, which argued that Coventry City Council acted unlawfully by trying to block the trade, and by Associated British Ports, owner of Plymouth’s Millbay docks, which argued that it had no power to unilaterally ban the trade despite the claims of the city council.
Liberty, formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties, also joined in the criticism of yesterday’s judgment.
Andrew Puddephatt, its general secretary,said: “A Private Member’s Bill to stop live animal exports was introduced into Parliament in February but ran out of time when one of William Waldegrave’s aides spent 24 minutes reading chunks from the Encyclopaedia Britannica to furious MPs.
“In the face of antics like that, it seems both ludicrous and insulting to claim that people should trust in the parliamentary process rather than engaging in protest that has been largely peaceful.
Shoreham – the film:
This film follows weeks of daily demonstrations by hundreds and, at times, thousands of people, who converged on a small harbour port in West Sussex, England, to protest about the export into Mainland Europe of thousands of cattle and sheep.
Thousands of young calves were also destined for veal crates, a system where calves are kept locked into tiny boxes, only able to lay or stand and are chained or tethered, forced to drink iron deficient milk so as to satisfy those who like their flesh (veal) light rose coloured and tender. This system was already banned in the UK and so farmers were exporting these baby animals to Europe where it was still legal.
The film demonstrates the power of ordinary people, when they get together and fight for the rights of those who do not have a voice. Within weeks, these advocates for animals managed to stop in their tracks, big business who were profiteering from what many people believe is a trade in suffering. Other harbour ports across the UK also saw these exports stopped, due to persistent and daily demonstrations. Ordinary folk, from all walks of life, young and not so young, put their own liberty and personal safety at risk to try and protect animals as well as to highlight this issue. Watch this film and be inspired.
View the film – Shoreham live export demonstrations 1995
By watching directly.
Live animal exports have been a subject of tension between animal rights and welfare groups, the public and the farming community since the late nineteenth century. Alun Howkins (1947-2018), a founding editor of History Workshop Journal, and Linda Merricks explored changing attitudes towards live animal exports, drawing extensively on material from the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex which aims to record the everyday lives and opinions of ordinary people. They found that campaigns against the transport of live animals had their origins in the late nineteenth century, corresponding with the growth of the anti–vivisection movement and environmental activism in Britain. Eight animal protection groups had been established in Britain by 1900 and another eight by 1944. While only one more group was formed before 1960, there were a further fourteen by the end of the 1980s. This suggests that interest in animal protection peaked in the late nineteenth century and then, again, after 1960 with the advent of modern animal rights. In the nineteenth century, concern about animal welfare in Britain was associated with religious-inspired moral reform which raised awareness of animal cruelty, whereas from the 1960s it reflected growing public consciousness of the relationship between humans and animals. Interest in animal welfare and animal rights has since become more central to public and political debate in Britain, but it is important to distinguish between the two. Animal welfare permits the use of animals by humans as long as they are provided with adequate food, shelter, veterinary treatment and other needs to prevent suffering, whereas animal rights advocates share the belief that it is morally wrong to exploit animals.
Moving on to current times; live animal exports to be banned in England and Wales
Published 3 December 2020
STILL remembering Jill, and for the animals;