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.
25
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£11,230
pledged of £25,000 stretch target from 273 pledges
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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.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: 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 ...

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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 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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