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Death row alpaca Geronimo to be slaughtered after High Court bid fails

The High Court heard an urgent application by owner Helen Macdonald today after it was decided alpaca Geronimo had to be destroyed after testing positive twice for bovine tuberculosis

Geronimo supporters march on Downing Street

Geronimo the alpaca will be slaughtered after his owner lost a last-ditch High Court bid to save his life.

The animal has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and, as a result, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has ordered his destruction.

At the High Court on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Stacey refused an urgent application for a temporary injunction to halt the enforcement of the destruction order.

She concluded there was “no prospect” of Helen Macdonald succeeding in her bid to reopen a previous ruling.

Mrs Macdonald, who imported the alpaca from New Zealand, believed the tests are returning false positives, was refused permission to have him tested a third time.



Geronimo faces slaughter after the failed attempt to save him
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Earlier this month, she lost her final appeal to save Geronimo and a warrant was signed for his destruction.

Ms Macdonald, who owns a farm at Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, has received an outpouring of support from the public, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling on Boris Johnson to halt the killing.

A hearing to halt the enforcement of the destruction order before Mrs Justice Stacey was adjourned on Tuesday to allow time for Ms Macdonald to provide further information to the court.

Ms Macdonald’s lawyers said Geronimo first tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in September 2017 and has been in isolation since.

Catrin McGahey QC told the court that, following the publicity resulting from Ms Macdonald’s case it had emerged other animals who have been subjected to the same testing regime as Geronimo have showed no signs of the disease after being euthanised.



His heartbroken owner and supporters were demanding he should be allowed to live
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The barrister said the publicity had led the Daily Mail to find the owners of nine other camelids who were subject to the same tests whose animals showed no signs of bovine TB after slaughter.

She told the court: “That information absolutely should have been before the two [previous] judges.

“We don’t know if there are more than nine camelids … what we do know is that Defra holds this information.”



The alpaca faces being destroyed after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis
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Ned Westaway, for Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, said Ms Macdonald has no right of appeal against the last High Court decision, and that this latest court bid was based on “speculation” in a newspaper article.

Mr Westaway added: “The suggestion of material non-disclosure is, frankly, unfounded.”

The judge said she would like Ms Macdonald’s lawyers to decide what evidence they wish Defra to produce and a time estimate of how long that may take before she reaches her decision on whether to grant the injunction.



His owner managed a legal boost with the High Court willing to listen to new evidence
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Mr Westaway said Defra will not execute the warrant until this issue is resolved.

Mrs Justice Stacey is due to make her decision following another hearing at 3.30pm on Wednesday.

If the judge refuses the application, Defra will be able to slaughter Geronimo as there is no further right of appeal for Ms Macdonald.

Ms Macdonald’s lawyers have written to Environment Secretary George Eustice to suggest Geronimo’s life could be saved and instead he could be studied for research.

As well as alpacas, badgers have been a victim of the fight against bovine TB, with mass culling employed to stop the spread since 2013, sparking a huge public backlash.











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