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Government body issuing illegal advice, claims BASC

The shooting organisation has criticised new Defra guidance that suggests the killing of gamebirds as a response to the GL43 shambles

Young pheasant poults

BASC is seeking legal advice over the guidance issued by Defra

BASC has accused Defra of issuing illegal advice to cull hundreds of thousands of gamebirds.

The shooting organisation has criticised new Defra guidance that suggests the killing of gamebirds as a response to a growing animal welfare crisis in the countryside, caused by changes to rules around the release of gamebirds announced without warning last month. Young pheasants cannot be kept in pens after the age of nine weeks without significant welfare issues, and this deadline rapidly approaches.

A source close to the Government has suggested that the shambolic handling of the reissuing of GL43 was not only down to poor policy and an apparent vendetta against the shooting fraternity, but also a clerical error. The source suggests important sign-off documents did not go through the proper channels and were not as such subject to the normal protocols due to departmental incompetence.

This governmental administrational oversight, it has been said, is in part to blame for the woeful lack of consultation and advice in regard to Defra’s ambush policy changes to GL43.

In light of these revelations, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Thérèse Coffey, who is being lampooned for a litany of other failings including a “complete abdication of duty” in relation to the sewage scandal, was notably absent despite expectation of her attendance at the recent Game Fair at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.

Clearly, she was detained on more important business than that of addressing the rural folk whose livelihoods she has placed in jeopardy.

BASC has sought legal advice through Dr Marnie Lovejoy, their head of evidence and environmental law, who said: “Defra has pulled this advice out of the hat as a half-baked response to a growing crisis of their own making.”

Shortly prior to the parliamentary recess, Cotswold MP and BASC vice-president Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown added his voice to the clamour, calling for the overturning of the decision not to reissue GL43. He too criticised fellow MP Thérèse Coffey and called the current situation “a disaster for rural affairs”.