Tuesday, 08 March 2011 12:12
Published inOther News
THERE has been a big mailbag once again for our MEP concerning the welfare of horses in transit to the abattoir.
12 months ago at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew signed Written Declaration 54/2009 on the long-distance transportation of horses to slaughter in Europe. The declaration was officially adopted and the MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber was thanked by the World Horse Welfare for his support in helping them with their campaign in reaching this milestone.
Now the charity and its supporters are asking for help again. In a letter to Andrew, the World Horse Welfare said:
"Over the last year we have been building upon the success of the Declaration. Since its adoption:
• We met Commissioner Dalli to present our evidence and recommendations.
• We presented evidence to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for their recently published Scientific Opinion on the welfare of animals during transport, which was referenced in the opinion and used in the formulation of their recommendations.
• We have conducted eight evidence-gathering field investigations and have used their findings to strengthen our case even further. Once again every single shipment we saw included horses showing signs of injury, stress, dehydration and disease.
• Our scientific research into the welfare of horses transported long-distance to slaughter in Europe has been published in the Equine Veterinary Journal.
• We co-sponsored and presented evidence to the European Transport Forum organised by the British Equine Veterinary Association and the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe. This provided an opportunity to discuss the health and welfare issues presented by these unnecessary journeys with experts from across Europe.
• We responded to the consultation reviewing the EU Policy on Animal Welfare (EUPAW).
• We presented evidence on the impact of Regulation 1/2005 to IBF (a consultancy firm commissioned by the Commission to assess the impact of the Regulation).
Now we need your help again. EFSA has recommended a journey limit of 12 hours for horses travelling to slaughter: we would like to see this limit applied to horses transported for further fattening and other non-registered horses (i.e. low-value horses), as these horses may still be at risk of travelling in poor conditions for excessively long time periods, compromising both their welfare and wider animal health. Please contact Commissioner Dalli and ask him whether he will take this recommendation up, and finally end these pointless journeys which cause such suffering.
Please encourage the Commission to introduce short, finite journey limits for low-value horses and horses destined for slaughter as soon as possible. The Commission has said that it intends to release a report in September this year on the operation of the Regulation but this is not enough: there is a wealth of scientific evidence available showing that it is now time that long overdue changes were made to close the loopholes in the current Regulation, improve horse welfare and lower the risk of disease outbreaks that could cripple the European sports horse industry. If you would like any further information, please feel free to contact me directly as I will be happy to help."
Responding on behalf of the MEP, Chris Beverley, Andrew's PA and Constituency Office manager wrote:
"Mr Brons has actively supported this campaign and he has written to Commissioner Dalli regarding the points raised in your email in the hope that this will help to move matters forward.
He will also endeavour to take whatever further steps that he can in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament to support this campaign.
Thank you for your correspondence regarding this very important issue."
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 11:43
Published inOther News
Andrew Brons was told at the end of last year that he had been chosen (by random computer selection) for jury service at York Crown Court for the weeks beginning 21st and 28th February.
Since the Criminal Justice Act 2003, it has not been possible for people to avoid jury service because of their occupations. Even judges can be chosen to serve on juries! Andrew could have delayed his jury service but it was not necessary because one of the two weeks was a constituency week and the other was a committee week in which his committees were not scheduled to sit.
What were his impressions?
“The judge was extremely lucid and took great pains to ensure that everybody understood the proceedings. He was also very approachable and ensured that we jurors were confident to ask questions and raise matters of concern. He took the trouble to ensure that we did not prejudge defendants because they were in the dock or because witnesses gave evidence by video link. He chose his words carefully so that we would not suspect which defendants had been held in custody.
What about his fellow jurors?
“I cannot, of course, refer to anything that was said in the jury room. However, they were, without exception, highly conscientious, confident, articulate and reasoning. They knew the importance of distinguishing between likeability, credibility and guilt or innocence. They understood the difference between believing that somebody probably did something and being sure that he/she did. I took part in three trials, so the jury selected was slightly different in each case. Furthermore, I met jurors, during the long pre-selection waiting periods, with whom I did not serve on a jury, as well as those with whom I did serve. I do not know how typical any of these were but they helped to reaffirm my faith in the jury system”.
“Does this mean that juries are effective instruments for arriving at the correct decision?
“I really do not know. It would be necessary to study known miscarriages of justice, as well as cases in which guilt was confirmed from another source, to arrive at any reliable conclusion”.
“It is difficult to assess the credibility of a witness from a testimony that lasts for only fifteen minutes, half an hour of even a full hour. When I say that it is difficult to assess credibility, I mean that it is difficult (in the case of a prosecution witness)to be sure that the witness is both truthful and accurate. The most we can hope for is that the witness’s testimony appeared to be truthful and accurate and that there were no credible arguments or evidence to lead us to cast doubt on its truth or accuracy”.
So, does he think that the jury system is a good one?
“That is certainly my default position. It is undoubtedly a safeguard against really crankish anti-free speech legislation that we see on the Continent of Europe. It served our Chairman and his colleague well, in England, in 2006. In any case in which the state is trying to prosecute dissentients for dissent, I would rather trust a panel of lay people than paid employees of the state, whatever pretence of judicial independence we choose to believe in.
If the cost of having juries in those cases, is to have them in all trials on indictment, then so be it. That should not be taken to imply that the jury system is only a necessary evil. The jury is still out on that one.
Perhaps the jury system – like its complement, democracy, according to Churchill – is the worst system in the world, except for all of the others!