Geronimo the alpaca: High Court bid to save animal refused

  • Published
Helen Macdonald, geronimoImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Helen Macdonald’s animal was ordered for destruction after twice testing positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTB)

The owner of a condemned alpaca has vowed to fight on despite losing a last-ditch attempt to save the animal.

Helen Macdonald said she will "obstruct" anyone who comes to her farm to put eight-year-old Geronimo down.

He has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, and the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered him to be euthanised.

An application for an injunction to halt the destruction order was refused at London's High Court earlier.

Ms Macdonald said: "It's not changed my mind. I haven't done this for four years to just roll over.

"There was always a principle at stake here about valid testing for all animals in the UK, proper science and we're just not getting it. I'm just disgusted really by the whole attitude."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Ms Macdonald believes the tests are returning false positives and has been refused permission to have Geronimo tested a third time

Ms Macdonald, who owns a farm at Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, has received public support over the past few weeks, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to halt the killing.

"It's not over. They seem to want to make it my decision, and make me put my animal to sleep, to get the blood off their hands. I'm not doing it," she said.

Asked what she will do if officials arrive at her property, she added: "Well, we'll just obstruct. I don't want to break the law. I'm not a criminal. They're trying to make me into one but I'm not a criminal. I will obstruct anyone who comes on to my farm."

In the High Court on Wednesday afternoon, Mrs Justice Stacey refused the urgent application for an injunction and concluded there was "no prospect" of Ms Macdonald succeeding in her bid to reopen a previous ruling.

She said the farmer's complaint about non-disclosure did not give rise to an arguable case, but was a "disingenuous and backdoor way of seeking a further route to appeal" when there was none left.

Ned Westaway, representing Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, told the court it will not seek to execute the warrant on Wednesday evening, and would give Ms Macdonald the opportunity to make her own arrangements for Geronimo's destruction.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Ms Macdonald has received support from the public but her last-ditch appeal was refused on Wednesday

Representing Ms Macdonald, Catrin McGahey QC, told the High Court it had come to light that other animals subjected to the same testing regime as Geronimo had shown no signs of the disease after being euthanised.

However, Mrs Justice Stacey said that on the evidence before her, Ms Macdonald had not succeeded in showing there was any prospect of her reopening the litigation.

"There are no plans to execute the warrant today," said a Defra spokesperson after the hearing.

"We are sympathetic to Ms Macdonald's situation, just as we are with everyone with animals affected by this terrible disease.

"It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny."

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: