Save Geronimo - Stop killing healthy alpacas without valid science

by Helen Macdonald

Save Geronimo - Stop killing healthy alpacas without valid science

by Helen Macdonald
Helen Macdonald
Case Owner
I am crowd funding to get justice for Geronimo after an 11 month battle against the Government. His is a unique scenario. We want to learn so that healthy alpacas can be tested for bovine tb safely.
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Helen Macdonald
Case Owner
I am crowd funding to get justice for Geronimo after an 11 month battle against the Government. His is a unique scenario. We want to learn so that healthy alpacas can be tested for bovine tb safely.
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Latest: Dec. 11, 2021

Geronimo's final culture results - Negative

The final results are in and as we expected Geronimo's tissue culture results are negative - M. bovis not detected. 

Press Statement 10.12.2021 - Geronimo the Alpaca did not have Bovine TB; U…

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Geronimo the alpaca needs your help! Team Geronimo need your help. We are being forced to take legal action against DEFRA and the Farming Minister George Eustice. Please contribute to this fund and share this page on Facebook and Twitter now.

I have been farming alpacas for 16 years and have always been proactive about their welfare. As a veterinary nurse I understand how important good bio security and surveillance health testing is to the entire UK livestock industry. We have carried out a bovine tuberculosis (btb) voluntary test in good faith and are now being punished for it by DEFRA.


What is the case?

I find myself having to challenge DEFRA and the Farming Minister George Eustice in Court because they refuse to accept that unvalidated test protocols can produce false positive results. 

This is a basic biological fact and we now know they are fully aware of the issues with this test, yet they choose to try and force me into slaughtering Geronimo, a healthy 6 year old imported alpaca, with only supposition and biased protocols to support their position.

We have asked DEFRA for the last 11 months to investigate. We are asking for an inexpensive blood test (which we will pay for) in order to understand what has happened in this unique situation. We are not asking for a pardon, only expecting DEFRA to behave in a fair and reasonable manner. 

Their 'kill at all costs' policy will result in the untimely and unnecessary slaughter of this alpaca unless they are forced to be reasonable.

How much am I raising and why?

In total, we need to raise £25,000 for legal fees to commence our challenge to this government department. Initially, we are raising £5,000 but then will need all your support to get to £25,000. This is the only course of action left to us.


This is about more than Geronimo

Other camelids and their owners may find themselves in a similar position unless we can change their attitudes and learn from new science. 

No one wants btb in their animals but camelid owners will refuse to test voluntarily unless DEFRA agree to work with the industry rather than against it.


Any support you can provide - contributing anything and sharing the page - will make a massive difference.

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Update 23

Helen Macdonald

Dec. 11, 2021

Geronimo's final culture results - Negative

The final results are in and as we expected Geronimo's tissue culture results are negative - M. bovis not detected. 

Press Statement 10.12.2021 - Geronimo the Alpaca did not have Bovine TB; UK Government continues their cover-up 

The UK Government have today persisted in their cover-up and manipulation of the facts concerning Geronimo the Alpaca, who was cruelly slaughtered by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on 31st August 2021. In a statement published on the Government website last night(1) , the Government have purposely misrepresented the facts to mislead the public and prolong the ordeal for Geronimo’s owner, Helen Macdonald.

 Since 2017, the Government have baselessly asserted that Geronimo must have contracted Bovine TB in New Zealand, even though the farm he was sourced from had been certified TB-free for at least ten years (26 yrs) and that when he was exported there was no sign of the disease. Geronimo’s execution warrant was the result of later testing by DEFRA, who’s flawed regime involves multiple priming with tuberculin which can cause false positives. DEFRA acknowledge that the required study to assess the impact of multiple priming on false positives has not yet been carried out. 

Despite the Government’s misleading statement, the fact remains that at no stage in the post-mortem process has there been evidence of any sign of Bovine TB, whether at initial inspection, histopathology, or at this latest culture stage. The reason that APHA were not able to culture bacteria from the tissue samples taken at post-mortem examination is because there was no bacteria to culture. 

Further, the statement of Christine Middlemiss, UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, that, “Due to the complexity of the disease, further testing has not enabled us to use Whole Genome Sequencing to try to understand how the animal became infected in the first place.” continues to falsely assert that Geronimo did in fact have the disease, deliberately ignoring the results of the post-mortem examination that show no evidence he had Bovine TB. 

Helen Macdonald said today; “It is outrageous that a medical professional would put her name to such a misleading and scientifically flawed statement. It is a blatantly manipulative interpretation of the facts. This is the Chief Veterinary Officer of the UK, allowing herself to be a political stooge to cover up the Government’s incompetence.” 

Ms Macdonald continued; “For nearly five years, we have asked the Government to retest, reconsider and review their Bovine TB policy, appealing directly to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Secretary of State, George Eustice. We offered Geronimo as part of a medical research project to develop a new bTB vaccine, we went through the courts multiple times to try and get to the truth, we offered for him to be retested, and at each turn we were blocked. Instead, I have been subjected to years of bullying and harassment by DEFRA. 

“George Eustice has spent a ridiculous amount of British taxpayers’ money and resources on trying to prove that this one imported alpaca had Bovine TB, when we knew all along that he didn’t, and ultimately, he personally ordered for Geronimo to be condemned to an unjust death. Whenever questioned about this case, Eustice either hides, laughs or goes on about his own family farm which is totally irrelevant. He obviously only cares about keeping his job, rather than showing compassion and supporting scientific development. This Government are letting down the UK farming community as a whole. Everyone involved in this debacle need to be held to account, and Boris Johnson and George Eustice should resign now.” 

“It is incredibly sad and personally devastating that the truth only emerges after the senseless death of Geronimo, and that the Government are still refusing to do anything to prevent this happening again. This latest episode is yet another example of this Government’s blind adherence to a flawed policy and their own flawed version of events, regardless of the consequences.” 

END. 1

 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/culture-results-for-geronimo-the-alpaca

Thank you so very much for your continued support. We will update you with further news soon. We will continue to demand reform of bTB policy.

XXX Helen 

Update 22

Helen Macdonald

Oct. 2, 2021

Press Statement - New detailed DEFRA Post-Mortem Report

PRESS STATEMENT

Geronimo the Alpaca

 

New detailed DEFRA Post-Mortem Report Confirms that Geronimo DID NOT have Bovine TB; 

Report purposely withheld until after Cabinet Reshuffle so George Eustice could keep his job


01.10.2021;  The full histopathology report of DEFRA’s postmortem on the alpaca Geronimo, executed by DEFRA on 31 August 2021, further confirms that he did not have Bovine Tuberculosis (Bovine TB).  The Pathology Report from the Animal & Plant Health Agency dated 10 September and provided to Geronimo’s owner, Helen Macdonald on 17 September, clearly shows no evidence of Bovine TB.  Despite pleas for information on Geronimo’s exact cause of death and the post mortem results,  DEFRA, having promised to release the report on 10 September, withheld this crucial document for a further week to ensure that George Eustice MP kept his job as Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 

Mr. Eustice held on to his job in the recent cabinet reshuffle on 15 September, despite overseeing a deeply flawed and defective Bovine TB policy.  He masterminded a heavy-handed, misleading and ultimately a very cruel approach to Geronimo’s case, and willfully refused to engage in constructive discussions around an alternative solution to save Geronimo through scientific research to progress a Bovine TB vaccine.  Instead, the Government proceeded with their blinkered policy to kill first and cover up the facts later.   When questioned by journalists on 15 September about Geronimo, Mr. Eustice laughed, obviously finding the enormous trauma inflicted on Geronimo, his owner and many other parties negatively affected by the Government’s bovine TB policy, a source of amusement.   On 16 September, the Secretary of State lied to listeners of LBC’s morning programme by stating that the ‘full post mortem’ had been shared with Geronimo’s owner. The full post mortem report was not provided until 17 September, after Mr. Eustice’s interview, during which he failed to tell the truth of what the document contained.

The Pathology Report, which follows the preliminary post mortem findings provided to Ms. Macdonald on 3 September, clearly shows that the Government’s execution warrant relied on a flawed testing protocol and that Geronimo was killed for no reason other than DEFRA’s inexorable reluctance to consider that their current procedures and policies are imprecise and invalid.  Despite their own scientific evidence, the Government continue to cling onto their assertion that Geronimo tested positive for Bovine TB, continuing a communication strategy that is based on propaganda and not factual evidence. 

Dr Iain McGill, Director of the Prion Group, and veterinary scientific advisor to Helen Macdonald, said:

“There is nothing whatsoever in this histopathology report to suggest infection with M bovis, the causative agent of bovine TB.  Put another way, if Geronimo had died naturally, and this post mortem had been carried out and yielded these same results, any veterinary surgeon or pathologist would state that there is no evidence of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) at all. It is important to stress that evaluation of the Ziehl-Neelsen stained sections, which would be expected to pick up any kind of mycobacterial infection including M. bovis, are all negative. Simply put, there is not one shred of evidence from this report to suggest that Geronimo had bovine TB.”

Dr. Bob Broadbent, Geronimo’s long-standing veterinary surgeon, added, “If Geronimo had had bTB for over four years as claimed, you would expect to find large, classic pyogranulomas produced as a result of bTB infection. None of the lesions identified are pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of bTB.  Defra’s expert pathologist refers to granulomas which have been classified on the TB50 form as ‘atypical’ of bTB. Despite Defra claiming on the 8th September that all of the lesions are ‘TB-like’, the post mortem report expressly rules out any mycobacterial infection such as bovine TB relating to the lesions found in the neck area. It is important to note that there are absolutely no lesions in the lungs or the respiratory tract, which is the most common place you would expect to find lesions in an animal infected with bTB.  This is the strongest indicator yet that Geronimo did not have Bovine Tuberculosis.  A following negative culture will be conclusive and final evidence.”  

It is also now clear that Geronimo met a brutal death. Page 1 of the Pathology Report states “Occasional low number of free erythrocytes [red blood cells] in alveoli and bronchioles”.  There should have been no red blood cells in Geronimo’s lungs, strongly indicating that he suffered a traumatic death.  DEFRA have so far refused to disclose any evidence-based information regarding the nature of his death, despite multiple requests by Ms Macdonald and her legal team, resulting in further avoidable distress.

Ms Macdonald said today, “I fully expected the post mortem results to be negative for bTB but there is no joy in being proven right.  I am outraged and devastated by the way Geronimo and I have been treated. As we have been saying for four years, DEFRA have never had any credible evidence to support a suspicion of disease in Geronimo. They knew this, yet forced his death regardless. It is a well-documented fact that Geronimo was never exposed to bTB in New Zealand and that the only test relied upon by DEFRA was entirely unvalidated in alpacas and known to cause false positive results following injections of tuberculin.

She continued; “DEFRA chose to deliberately misuse the test and abuse their power to maintain their barbaric ‘kill at all cost’ regime.  George Eustice and his department have acted immorally and unethically, resulting in Geronimo’s needless death. DEFRA are guilty of deliberate wrongdoing, withholding information for political gain and publishing deliberately misleading claims about Geronimo’s results; they need to open their mind up to the fact that they are wrong, and stop repeating over and over again the same lies and the same spin.  The facts speak for themselves.  I would like to receive a public apology from George Eustice, and very importantly, an admission from DEFRA that they were wrong, and what they are going to do to avoid this happening again in the future.”

END

Enc. Animal & Plant Health Agency Pathology Report – Geronimo (Dated 10/09/2021)


Update 21

Helen Macdonald

Sept. 15, 2021

Geronimo - The Government's Wall of Silence

PRESS STATEMENT

 

The Government’s Wall of Silence;

DEFRA Refuse to Release Information regarding Geronimo’s Death and Post-Mortem

15.09.2021; It has been over two weeks since Geronimo the alpaca was executed by DEFRA, and the Government are still refusing to disclose where, how and when Geronimo was put to death.   DEFRA continue to hold back crucial information following his post mortem, despite their lawyers confirming that “given the detailed nature of [the] request, and the fact that various teams across DEFRA and APHA are involved in preparing the response,” DEFRA would respond directly to Helen Macdonald, Geronimo’s owner, by close of business on Monday 13th September 2021.  The Government have failed to meet their own deadline. 

Ms Macdonald has repeatedly requested all information relating to Geronimo’s last hours, including if, following his shocking abduction, animal welfare standards were followed including whether he was killed by lethal injection under veterinary supervision, and requesting the trailer CCTV footage. To date, DEFRA have not confirmed that there was a single vet present at Geronimo’s apparent slaughter.  All requests for information have to date been stonewalled by the authorities, causing further and unnecessary distress to Ms Macdonald. 

Preliminary findings of the post-mortem on Geronimo the alpaca showed no clear evidence of Bovine Tuberculosis.  The Government, represented by their spokesperson Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, denied this assessment of the preliminary findings without providing any scientific evidence to support the Government’s claim.  They continue to refuse to provide any information to back up their denial.  Ms Middlemiss made reference to ‘tb-like lesions’ but despite multiple requests for information, has not provided any further details or images of these alleged lesions. 

Further, Ms Macdonald has still not received the crucial TB50 form, which is the material examination form detailing which samples have been sent to the relevant laboratories for testing, or a copy of notes taken at the time of the post-mortem. 

Dr Iain McGill, Helen MacDonald's veterinary scientific advisor and Director of the Prion Group said:

"These findings would have been available within five days of the post-mortem – the Government will already have a comprehensive set of results. Despite repeated requests, there has been no disclosure of which blood or tissue samples have been taken from Geronimo, nor the results obtained from tests upon such samples including: Enferplex, Idexx and Actiphage PCR blood tests; histopathology findings from formalin fixed tissue samples, including the crucial Zeihl-Neelsen staining results which, if he were infected, would be able to visualise the bacteria M bovis, which causes TB; and no results from molecular testing such as immunocytochemistry, in situ hybridizatoin and phage PCR (Actiphage)."

Ms Macdonald said earlier today, “The Government continue to make this as distressing and as difficult as possible for everyone concerned.  They are using every tactic they can to prevent any disclosure, and indeed any closure for myself and everyone who was campaigning to save Geronimo’s life and improve Bovine TB policy.  DEFRA know very well that the information they are refusing to provide, will not support their claim that there was any suspicion of Bovine TB in Geronimo.  That is why they refuse to provide this information and hide behind their wall of silence.” 

The Secretary of State, George Eustice, has to date refused to comment or engage in the issue.





 

Update 20

Helen Macdonald

Aug. 26, 2021

Geronimo Press Release - Thursday 26th August


"With just over a week left on Geronimo's death warrant, we are still trying to work constructively with DEFRA on this. 


We are requesting an urgent meeting with George Eustice, and really hope to hear back from DEFRA later today. 


It is naturally a terribly traumatic time for Geronimo and myself, and everyone else who has been supporting us over the last few weeks.  


But we remain confident that there are ways forward to save Geronimo, and that DEFRA will find a way to do the right thing."


Thank you so much for all your support xxx Helen & Geronimo 

Update 19

Helen Macdonald

Aug. 18, 2021

Geronimo Statement following High Court Hearing 18.08.2021

Legal statement 


"We are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the hearing in the High Court hearing today.  Mrs Justice Stacey did not grant the injunction we were seeking, the result of which is that the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) can enforce the warrant to execute Geronimo at any time after 4.30pm on Thursday 19th August 2021.  Further, the judge did not order the disclosure we had sought regarding nine other camelids that had previously tested positive for Bovine TB after multiple priming, yet showed  no signs of Bovine TB post-mortem.   


Unfortunately, Mrs Justice Stacey has taken at face value the statements by DEFRA that they, and specifically the Secretary of State, have complied with their duty of candour in bringing before the Court all relevant information in applying for the warrant.  We are surprised and concerned by that approach, given the information that has come to light in recent weeks regarding the nine other camelids. 


During the High Court hearing yesterday, Mrs Justice Stacey expressed consternation and astonishment that the parties had not engaged in any meaningful discussions prior to the hearing.  For our part, we have made it consistently clear in correspondence with the Government Legal Department that our client is willing to do so.  We strongly reiterate that call to the Secretary of State and the relevant government bodies to engage in a more constructive manner, rather than the heavy-handed and blinkered approach that they have adopted to date. 


The claim for judicial review remains live and we are considering with our client all of her options."


We fight on! Helen and all of Team Geronimo xxx

Update 18

Helen Macdonald

Aug. 1, 2021

We lost in Court but accountability remains outstanding

Sunday 1st August - 4 days left

Dear Boris Johnson, George Eustice, Lord Benyon & Christine Middlemiss MRCVS

Defra/APHA are hiding behind the law. They knew in 2017 Geronimo was not diseased! They KNOW now he is not diseased.

Stop this abuse of a healthy animal. Stop blaming New Zealand without foundation. Stop misusing tests.

The evidence is clear, the diagnosis is unsound, unethical and dishonest. Defra have admitted what they knew and did in 2017. Dr Christine Middlemiss, you are an MRCVS accountable for government vets - you can do the right thing now.

Boris Johnson, George Eustice, Lord Benyon - permit me to use the Actiphage test to resolve this once and for all. We would all know the truth within 2 days and surveillance testing of camelids may just recover for the benefit of future disease control.

First do no harm. Killing Geronimo will not undo what we all know and will just cause more distress and distrust. Your ‘regime’ has been protected, your accountability has not.

Please apply courage and common sense within your powerful roles and act on the evidence not the dogma.

#savegeronimo #borisjohnson #georgeeustice #lordbenyon #leadership #honesty #Accountability #integrity #transparency #credibility #HONEST #chiefvet #rcvs #animalwelfare #animalrights #animalcruelty #NFU #veterinary #vet #alpaca #newzealand #JacindaArdern

Thank you so much everyone! I cannot reply to your wonderful messages but I do read them. Your donations are so very welcome as we battle on. 

XXXX Helen &Geronimo 

Update 17

Helen Macdonald

July 15, 2021

Geronimo Update - details of our legal challenge (Part 3)


Given that DEFRA accepted Geronimo could not have contracted bTB in the UK before the time of testing in 2017 and it has been clearly shown that Geronimo was not exposed to infection in New Zealand it is unbelievable that the test results can be claimed to be correct in the absence of any studies before or since Geronimo was tested to support this rational. 

The tests have been shown to be enforced and interpreted by APHA officials with prior knowledge and as such the ‘suspicion of disease’ does not stand up to scrutiny.

For George Eustice to continue down this path to slaughter a healthy animal given the known misuse of the Enferplex test with prior knowledge as evidenced, is not in the public interest, will prevent voluntary surveillance testing from taking place within a very proactive industry and will not be aligned with the recommendations of the Bovine TB Strategy Review (The Godfrey Report) commissioned by Michael Gove and published in 2018.

This is the 3rd and last post of this short series. We will continue to update this page over the coming weeks. We ask yet again for evidence based consideration of Geronimo's case. 

Thank you so much for keeping us strong, your support means the world

Helen & Geronimo

Update 16

Helen Macdonald

July 10, 2021

Geronimo Update - details of our legal challenge (Part 2)

On the 22nd June we wrote to the Government Legal Department requesting that their clients (APHA) confirm they would not execute the warrant before the outcome of the Appeal Hearing was known.

By the afternoon of the 28th June we had not received confirmation and were forced to apply to the High Court for an emergency injunction out of hours. 

On Friday 2nd July we attended the High Court in London to apply to extend the injunction order to prevent APHA executing the warrant if it was issued by the Bristol Magistrates Court. 

This application was successful and Geronimo is safe from slaughter by APHA before the outcome of the Appeal Hearing, now set for the 29th July, is known. 

It is apparent by the lack of acknowledgement from the Secretary of State that he may not be in full possession of the facts or if he is, may not have fully understood them. My MP Luke Hall (Con) has again written to Mr Eustice to raise the outstanding questions, asking him to review Geronimo’s case as a matter of urgency. 

Part 3 coming tomorrow will bring you up to date as we ask yet again for an evidence based review of Geronimo's case.
 
www.crowdjustice.com/case/savegeronimo

#GeorgeEustice #savegeronimo #accountability #leadership #transparency   #BorisJohnson #noevidence #stopblamingnz
Update 15

Helen Macdonald

July 9, 2021

Geronimo Update - details of our legal challenge (Part 1)



Lord Gardiner of Kimble wrote to my MP Luke Hall (Con) in August 2020 stating the decision to slaughter Geronimo is a matter for the Secretary of State and not the Courts. 

We have been forced through legal process to protect Geronimo from harm from the outset. George Eustice has not responded to me or the British Alpaca Society since August 2018 when he communicated inaccurate facts to confirm that Geronimo must be slaughtered.

In December 2020 APHA applied to Bristol Magistrates Court for a warrant to gain entry to slaughter Geronimo. We were permitted representation at those proceedings. 

In June 2021 APHA were granted a warrant of entry to slaughter Geronimo effective from the 29th June for 30 days. We sought to appeal the Magistrate Court’s decision to grant the warrant and on 18th June it became known to the parties that the appeal to the High Court would proceed.

Find out how APHA responded in the next post...


Find out how APHA responded in the next post... 

Thank you so much for your continued support - it really does keep us going! 
xxxx


Helen & Geronimo 

 

Update 14

Helen Macdonald

July 3, 2021

Geronimo - the fight continues!

Geronimo is very well almost 4 years after DEFRA determined that he must be infected with late stage bTB in 2017 'caught' in New Zealand, following the unvalidated use of the Camelid Enferplex test with prior knowledge of the consequences. 

The current Secretary of State for the Environment the Rt. Hon George Eustice (Geronimo is on his 3rd) has to date refused to acknowledge or respond to any communications from myself or my MP and separately from the British Alpaca Society since August 2018. This is not acceptable to us when the facts clearly show that DEFRA’s actions alone have created this suspicion of disease in Geronimo.

We are fighting hard for honesty, transparency, accountability and an evidence based review from George Eustice and will continue to do so for the sake of all UK camelids.

After lengthy gaps in communication from government since 2019 we find ourselves in further legal challenge - more to come on that very soon.

We will be updating you regularly for the next few weeks and would love for you to share this on social media platforms, raise as much awareness as you possibly can and contribute if you are able to. 

With much love from Geronimo & Helen for continuing to be there for us xxx


Update 13

Helen Macdonald

March 6, 2020

Geronimo's latest news - 6th March 2020

Geronimo's latest news - Statement

As we enter March 2020, neither I nor my local MP, Luke Hall (Con), have received a response or even an acknowledgment from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP, in relation to Luke Hall MP's letter dated 24 January 2020 requesting a meeting to resolve Geronimo's case.

This is causing us further distress, particularly in view of the approaching deadline of 13 May 2020 to apply to the European Court of Human Rights to appeal the decision of the English Courts.

What we do know is that, on 13 February 2020, representatives from the British Alpaca Society (BAS) and the British Llama Society (BLS) met with representatives from DEFRA's TB Policy team. Whilst a meeting between industry representatives and DEFRA represents good progress, DEFRA refused to allow a discussion of specific cases. Therefore Geronimo's unique situation and the important questions concerning the effect of multiple priming on blood tests such as the Enferplex test could not be raised. We find this extremely disappointing, particularly in circumstances where references to a document relied upon by DEFRA to support the use of priming (last updated in March 2018) have been removed from the latest edition of DEFRA's official Camelid bTB Testing Scenarios Guidance. This is further evidence of the haphazard approach that that DEFRA continues to take towards bTB testing in camelids.

One positive outcome from the meeting on 13 February 2020 was that DEFRA seems to have agreed that BAS and BLS members wishing to meet with DEFRA officials can request this of DEFRA. This is a welcome development and I will naturally be requesting a meeting (in addition to the
meeting that my local MP, Luke Hall MP, has already requested from George Eustice MP).

Furthermore, according to the latest DEFRA guidelines, camelid owners can now request private testing when their camelid herd is under movement restrictions, in order to help manage and shorten a disease outbreak in the herd. This change to the DEFRA guidelines is also a welcome development. However, the change is difficult to reconcile with the fact that our requests to test Geronimo and the 5 alpacas with whom he has been held in isolation since 2017 (which, according to DEFRA's logic, should now be infected with bTB) have been repeatedly denied by DEFRA.

DEFRA's assertion that Geronimo is infected with bTB (for the last 5 years) is made in the absence of any evidence (apart from two Enferplex tests applied outside of agreed protocols) of disease and of any identifiable source of infection. Most importantly, there is absolutely no scientific credibility or trial data to suggest any degree of blood test accuracy following the multiple priming of a camelid.

We have been going around in circles for 2.5 years now, at great financial and emotional cost to myself.

I call on George Eustice MP to finally listen to me and my local MP and grant us a meeting in order to bring this case to a resolution.

I note that there has been a change of policy in relation to badger culling (labelled by DEFRA's own experts as a "crazy scheme" based on "wilfully ignoring the science"). I hope that a revised approach is adopted here now that the Government's response to the Godfrey Report has been published.

Please share this everywhere, tell your friends and pledge if you can, we massively appreciate everything you do!


Thank you! Helen & G

Update 12

Helen Macdonald

Feb. 28, 2020

1000 days today since Geronimo left New Zealand

Today marks the 1000th day since Geronimo left his high health status farm in New Zealand to travel to the UK

2yrs 8mths and 24 days later Geronimo is in perfect health, along with his 5 friends and in the prime of his life.

And yet, despite the use of 'amended' and therefore unvalidated tests, the clear lack of evidence based science, the known concerns of multiple priming with tuberculin in healthy camelids (since 2016) and plenty of if’s, but’s and maybe’s DEFRA still want Geronimo dead without a valid test.

Environment Secretary, the Rt Hon George Eustice MP is now responsible for Geronimo’s life.

After 2.5 yrs, we are waiting for Mr Eustice to agree to meet with me, review the evidence and resolve this unique situation and prevent anything like this from happening again.

We have only ever asked for fair treatment and a valid test for Geronimo.

Without your help Geronimo would not be here today. Help us keep going XXXX

Update 11

Helen Macdonald

Jan. 31, 2020

Latest news - Friday 31st January 2020

On the eve of new beginnings, we are still awaiting a response to our letter to Theresa Villiers dated 27 November 2019 requesting a meeting to review Geronimo's case as a matter of urgency.


Since the General Election result last month, we have also been in communication with our local Member of Parliament, Luke Hall MP (Con). On Friday 24 January 2020, after a meeting that I had with Mr Hall's assistant, Mr Hall wrote a letter to George Eustice MP (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister responsible for making the order to slaughter Geronimo) requesting a meeting between himself, Mr Eustice, and me with the aim of resolving Geronimo's case. We have been advised that we can expect a response from Mr Eustice by Friday 7 February 2020.


It is clear to us that Mr Eustice may not fully have considered all the evidence and/or did not fully appreciate the proper interpretation of the evidence that was considered in the lead up to his decision to order the slaughter of Geronimo. He now has the opportunity to work with me and my local MP to revisit the evidence, resolve this situation and ensure that it never happens again.


We have only ever asked for fair treatment and for a valid testing regime to be applied to Geronimo. The relevant ministers must take responsibility for their actions and resolve this now.'

Helen & G

#savegeronimo #wesupportgeronimo #nodisease #noevidence #testnotslaughter #theresavilliers #georgeeustice #brexiteve

Update 10

Helen Macdonald

Jan. 20, 2020

Geronimo on TV

Geronimo on TV - ITV West County News - Tuesday 14th January 2020.

Link; 

https://www.facebook.com/katie.rowlett.75/videos/o.294945851206464/2497143237274047/?type=2&theater

The news item features Geronimo's vet, Bob Broadbent MRCVS, who explains very clearly DEFRA's use of unvalidated tests in camelids. 

Thank you so much to Katie Rowlett and the team at ITV for reporting Geronimo's story with clarity and accuracy.

We have only ever asked for a valid test to be used and 2.5 years on we continue to ask for the right to fair treatment by the Government. 

We have asked Theresa Villiers to meet with us to review Geronimo's case.

We hope that, unlike her predecessor, Ms Villiers will accept that there is no scientific foundation for suspecting bTB in our perfectly healthy boy.

We also hope that the new Secretary of State will realise that blaming New Zealand for allowing the export of an allegedly bTB-positive into the UK (which DEFRA has previously done) is immoral, absurd and wholly unacceptable.

Please share this post, ask others to join the campaign and donate when you can. Costs continue while we fight for the right for Geronimo and all camelids to have access to valid tests. 

Onwards!

Helen and Geronimo

Update 9

Helen Macdonald

Jan. 12, 2020

Awaiting response from Secretary of State

On 27th November 2019 I wrote a letter to the Secretary of State DEFRA, The Right Honourable Theresa Villiers MP.

On the 11th December 2019, I received in the post an acknowledgment letter from her Private Secretary. This was very welcome, thank you! 🙂

(In the past I have sent several letters to George Eustice and Michael Gove and never received so much as an acknowledgement.)

Now that the General Election, Christmas, New Year and indeed 2019 is over, we look forward to a positive response to our request for a meeting to review Geronimo's case as soon as possible.

We hope that, unlike her predecessor, Ms Villiers will accept that there is no scientific foundation for suspecting bTB in our perfectly healthy boy.

We also hope that the new Secretary of State will realise that blaming New Zealand for allowing the export of an allegedly bTB-positive into the UK (which DEFRA has previously done) is immoral, absurd and wholly unacceptable.

We will continue to seek the further testing of Geronimo and fair treatment from this Conservative government.

We thank you all so much for your continued support ❤️❤️❤️ 

Helen and Geronimo xxx

Update 8

Helen Macdonald

Dec. 5, 2019

Letter sent to Theresa Villiers

Following on from my last post, I have written to Theresa Villiers asking her to review Geronimo's case and to consent to a meeting with me as a matter of urgency. 

We hope that, unlike her predecessor, Ms Villiers will accept that there is no scientific foundation for suspecting bTB in our perfectly healthy boy (whose excellent health an expert camelid vet confirmed following a full non-invasive clinical examination of Geronimo just last month). 

We also hope that the new Secretary of State will realise that blaming New Zealand for allowing the export of an allegedly bTB-positive into the UK (which DEFRA has previously done) is immoral, absurd and wholly unacceptable.

We will continue to seek the further testing of Geronimo and fair treatment from this Conservative government.

Thank you everyone for helping us get justice for Geronimo by sharing his story and pledging to help keep us going. Onwards!

Update 7

Helen Macdonald

Dec. 3, 2019

Outcome of Court of Appeal Application

It is with extreme disappointment that we must report that, on 13 November 2019, the Court of Appeal refused our application for permission to appeal the High Court's Order dated 9 July 2019. This means that the Court of Appeal has refused to even hear Geronimo's case. As such, the Secretary of State's decision to slaughter Geronimo stands and we have no further right to appeal the decision in an English court, although we are considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Needless to say, we find both decisions utterly confounding. According to the reasoning of the Court of Appeal, the Minister was "reasonably entitled" to conclude that it was unnecessary for further tests to be carried out on Geronimo because to permit this in circumstances where an animal had already tested positive twice for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) would "lead to dispute in numerous cases and would unnecessarily disrupt and undermine the testing regime."

In our view, this reasoning fails to take proper account of the interests of owners who (as in this case) have raised very legitimate doubts about the accuracy of the testing regime itself. Furthermore, the reasoning does not properly address the lack of a viable explanation by the Secretary of State as to when and where Geronimo is supposed to have contracted bTB, nor the fact that Geronimo (and the 5 alpacas with whom he is held in isolation) continue to exhibit absolutely no clinical signs of a bTB infection.

Finally, it is important to note that neither Court stated that it believed that Geronimo actually has bTB; each Court merely concluded that the Secretary of State's decision, whether correct or not, could not be labelled "irrational" (and therefore subject to being quashed).

We have until 13 May 2020 to make an application to the European Court of Human Rights. In the meantime, we will strongly contest any attempt by the Secretary of State to slaughter Geronimo. We have recently written to DEFRA to request that the Secretary of State order the further testing of Geronimo for bTB (this time in accordance with a suitable protocol that avoids the serious shortcomings of the protocol employed by DEFRA during the last two tests upon which Geronimo tested positive in 2017). We hope that the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Theresa Villiers, will pay greater regard to the science of this unique case than her predecessor, Michael Gove, and that she will permit the further testing of Geronimo (which Mr Gove legally denied us). A copy of our letter to Theresa Villiers is attached.

It is now almost 5 years since the last occasion upon which Geronimo could hypothetically have been exposed to bTB (i.e. at a show in Rotorua, New Zealand in January 2015). Despite this, Geronimo appears, in the words of an expert camelid vet who recently examined him, "to grow ever healthier". Given the overwhelming evidence pointing to Geronimo's ongoing good health, we will continue to use every avenue still available to us to resist his needless slaughter at the hands of a cruel and unreflective government.



Update 6

Helen Macdonald

July 26, 2019

Geronimo's High Court Judgement

“On 9 July 2019, Mr Justice Murray sitting in the High Court handed down judgment in Geronimo’s case. Unfortunately, the Judge ruled that the Court does not have the power to quash the Secretary of State’s decision to order the slaughter of Geronimo. As such, the decision to slaughter Geronimo stands. Unless the Court’s decision is successfully appealed, Geronimo will soon be slaughtered. We are in the process of filing an application for permission to appeal, which we expect will be filed by the end of this month. Our hope is that it will be heard as early as possible in the new Court term, which starts in October. In the meantime, the Court has made an order preventing the Secretary of State from slaughtering Geronimo whilst our application is outstanding.



While Mr Justice Murray found that Geronimo’s two positive test results for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) may be inaccurate, he disagreed with our submission that the Secretary of State had behaved irrationally in deciding to slaughter Geronimo. The Judge held that the Secretary of State had given due regard to the conflicting scientific opinions as to the accuracy of the two test results and that, in any event, the two results “provide strong evidence, to a high degree of certainty” that Geronimo is infected with bTB. The Judge also had regard to what he considered to be the “contagious nature of bTB and the devastating effect it can have on other animals, bovine and non-bovine, including the risk to humans.”

 


We are very disappointed with the High Court’s judgment. We believe that, apart from the two highly questionable test results (based on tests prior to which Geronimo was primed multiple times with tuberculin), all of the evidence indicates that Geronimo is not infected with bTB. Geronimo still displays no clinical signs of bTB, nor do the other alpacas that have been held in isolation with Geronimo for the last two years. It is hard to square these hard facts with a view that Geronimo is in fact infected with this devastating disease.

 


All we have ever asked is that Geronimo be tested according to a protocol that avoids the scientifically uncertain results of priming a camelid with tuberculin multiple times before subjecting that animal to a bTB blood test. It is part of my duty of care as an owner and my right to expect fair treatment from my government that Geronimo is tested correctly. I am also deeply concerned that the High Court’s decision may have very negative implications for the voluntary surveillance testing of camelids for bTB in this country. This is why we continue the fight by making our application to the Court of Appeal.”

Update 5

Helen Macdonald

March 8, 2019

High Court hearing update

High Court hearing update

On Wednesday 6 March 2019, we attended the Royal Courts of Justice in London where Geronimo's case was heard by High Court Judge, Mr Justice Murray.

After hearing the submissions from both sides, Mr Justice Murray ultimately decided that he required more time to give the case the proper consideration it deserved. He therefore decided to reserve judgment until a later date. We expect to receive the Judge's decision within the next 2 months. We presented what we regard to be a powerful and compelling case to the Court and remain hopeful that we will be granted the declaration we have sought.  

Geronimo remains fit and well and we look forward to receiving the judgment in due course.

Thank you all so much for your continued support!

Helen

Update 4

Helen Macdonald

Jan. 10, 2019

We have a date for Geronimo's Court Case.

A full-day substantive judicial review hearing of Geronimo's case will take place before a High Court judge on 6 March 2019.

As the Secretary of State has rejected our latest request for the further testing of Geronimo, we do not expect that this substantive hearing can be avoided. We are therefore pursuing our preparations for the hearing in earnest, whereby we (and the government) continue to incur wholly unnecessary expenditure. By refusing a re-test, the Secretary of State has also foregone an invaluable opportunity to broaden his understanding of the accuracy and sustainability of the bTB testing procedures currently in place for camelids in this country.

I look forward to presenting the High Court judge in March with what I believe to be a very strong case that Geronimo is not in fact infected with bTB. I hope that the judge, with all the science before him/her, will agree that the Secretary of State's decision to slaughter Geronimo is irrational and unlawful and therefore must be quashed.

Thank you so much for support, this really is people power in action!

We still need your help. Please share and pledge if you can to help us reach our target.

Update 3

Helen Macdonald

Nov. 17, 2018

High Court grants us permission to apply for judicial review!

Geronimo Supporters - Good news!

We are pleased to say that, on 5 November 2018, the High Court granted us permission to apply for judicial review. This means that the High Court considered our case to have sufficient merit such that it can now proceed to a substantive hearing. 

We do not yet have a date for the hearing, but we do not expect it to be heard before the Spring of 2019. The High Court denied a request by DEFRA to have the hearing expedited.

We continue to try to engage with the Secretary of State and his advisers in the hope that he will reconsider his position and consent to the further testing of Geronimo, thereby avoiding the need for the substantive hearing and saving wholly unnecessary expenditure.

Just as importantly, we all need to take this opportunity to broaden our learning and understanding of the accuracy and suitability of the bTB testing procedure for camelids currently in place. Until this happens, and while the Secretary of State continues to insist that Geronimo be slaughtered on the basis of two flawed test results, I welcome the opportunity to present Geronimo's case to a High Court judge.

Thank you so very much for your continued support, it really does help us stay strong. 

Please share this news and help us raise the funds to see this through.



Update 2

Helen Macdonald

Oct. 18, 2018

We have applied for judicial review!

Geronimo remains fit and healthy more than 14 months since his arrival into the UK and is enjoying his second autumn.

 Since my last update, unfortunately neither DEFRA nor the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr Michael Gove, have taken up the invitation to seek resolution of this unique case outside of the courts. I do not understand their refusal to consider fully all the new evidence alongside myself and the wider camelid industry. Instead, DEFRA and Mr Gove simply continue to insist that Geronimo must be slaughtered.

As a consequence, I have now sought permission from the High Court to apply for judicial review. As part of this application, yesterday the High Court ordered that neither the Secretary of State nor his agents should take any steps to remove or slaughter Geronimo (which extends to seeking to obtain a warrant from a Magistrates' Court for Geronimo's removal from my property for slaughter) pending its decision on whether to grant me permission to apply for judicial review. 

My hope in applying for judicial review is that the High Court, with all the evidence before it, will realise that the decision to slaughter Geronimo is not supported by science, and is ultimately irrational. I hope that it will exercise its judicial discretion to quash the decision taken on behalf of the Secretary of State.

Please bear with us whilst our legal team do what is required and we will continue to update you as matters proceed.

Our heartfelt thanks go to each and every one of you for your continued help and support, which has ensured that the fight can continue.

Update 1

Helen Macdonald

Sept. 10, 2018

Geronimo's update - what is happening now?

Thank you for your continued support and interest in Geronimo's case. Here is a quick update on what has happened since we reached our first target.

We are currently working hard behind the scenes preparing our legal challenge and that is where the money so far raised is being used.

Since the £5,000 target was reached we have had continued press coverage as well as radio interviews. 

A joint statement has been made by the council of British Camelids Ltd along with the British Llama Society (BLS) and the British Alpaca Society (BAS) in support of our application for judicial review. This is hugely appreciated given the specifics of Geronimo's situation and the implications for all camelids in the UK. 

All of your efforts have not gone unnoticed. Help is coming in many ways and demonstrates just how emotive Geronimo's case is. You are contacting your MP's and receiving responses as well as sharing, tweeting and talking about Geronimo's story. We would struggle to fight for justice without your support.


Thank you so much. We will keep you updated on further developments.

Very best wishes

Helen

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