The stunning was poor, and we filmed many animals screaming after the improperly-used electric tongs had left them in serious pain rather than rendering them unconscious.
Animal Aid reported the cruelty to the Food Standards Agency, which revoked two slaughtermen’s licences and increased monitoring. We formally requested that the Agency initiated a prosecution but were told that ‘Defra is not prepared to commence prosecution proceedings where the initial allegation is based on CCTV footage gained without the consent of the relevant Food Business Operator’. Animal Aid appointed a legal team that challenged the Food Standards Agency’s decision not to investigate, as well as Defra’s decision not to prosecute. At the same time, we took our footage to Sky News and the national press, where the story of overt cruelty and the government’s refusal to act received widespread coverage. The Food Standards Agency quickly agreed to investigate and pass the file to Defra. Animal Aid later dropped its legal action against Defra when the government department was stripped of its prosecution function – something which Animal Aid had been lobbying for, since the department was clearly too close to the industry and had a serious conflict of interest.
The Crown Prosecution Service took the case to court based on our footage and two Cheale Meats workers pleaded guilty and were jailed, one for burning pigs with a cigarette and another for beating pigs with excessive force and frequency.