UK

Boris must ‘resign over Geronimo TB fiasco’, insists furious vet

 The owner of an alpaca who was executed despite fresh claims insisting he did not have tuberculosis has insisted Boris Johnson must resign over the fiasco. 

Geronimo was put down by Government vets in August over disputed claims he had the disease.

But post-mortem examinations carried out on the animal have found no trace of bovine tuberculosis.

Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald, 50, was adamant that he was not infected and launched a campaign to save him.

But after she lost her lengthy legal fight, officials escorted by police dragged him from her farm near Wickwar, Gloucestershire, to be killed.

Now Miss MacDonald, a registered veterinary nurse who is considering suing ministers over his slaughter, has called for the PM and Environment Secretary to step down.

Her call comes amid a catastrophic few days for Mr Johnson, in which he has faced a huge backlash over allegations Christmas parties have been held at Downing Street, as well as his ‘Plan B’ for Covid, which has seen certain restrictions reintroduced. 

Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald, 50, was adamant that he was not infected and launched a campaign to save him

She has now called on Boris Johnson (pictured yesterday) to resign over the fiasco

She has now called on Boris Johnson (pictured yesterday) to resign over the fiasco

A number of policemen arrive at the farm of Helen McDonald in August to take Geronimo away

A number of policemen arrive at the farm of Helen McDonald in August to take Geronimo away

‘This Government are letting down the UK farming community as a whole,’ she said today. 

‘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.’ 

Geronimo’s killing was the culmination of a David and Goliath legal fight between her and Defra that gripped the nation. 

The eight-year-old champion alpaca, who was born in New Zealand before being brought to Britain, was consigned for slaughter after he twice tested positive for bTB in 2017.

Miss Macdonald has always disputed the results – but the legal battle concluded with a High Court ruling in July that he should be destroyed.

In August, Defra officials and dozens of police officers forced their way on to Miss Macdonald’s farm to take Geronimo away.

She said Avon and Somerset Police had questions to answer for ‘facilitating murder’ and accused Defra of ‘bully boy tactics’ that are ‘frankly unforgivable’.

Then, early tests carried out in September were inconclusive on whether the animal had bovine tuberculosis.  

No lesions were found on Geronimo’s lungs or respiratory tract – the most common place they are exhibited in an animal with the disease.

However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said its vets had discovered a ‘number of TB-like lesions’ in the liver and lymph nodes.

Further tests have been carried out since to try to establish whether the animal in fact had the disease, including the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples. 

The results, which have been finalised in the past week, showed no traces of the disease.

In not confirming these results, Miss Macdonald accused Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss of being ‘a political stooge to cover up the Government’s incompetence’.

She added: ‘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.’ 


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