Animal exporter in legal threat
A LIVE sheep exporter is to seek an injunction against animal welfare activists to allow him to resume shipments out of Ipswich port, it has emerged.French-based exporter Thomas Lomas, whose contract with Ipswich shipping company Ferryways UK to ship sheep to Belgium was withdrawn in September after pressure from animal rights activists, has set a deadline of midnight tomorrow before beginning legal proceedings.
A LIVE sheep exporter is to seek an injunction against animal welfare activists to allow him to resume shipments out of Ipswich port, it has emerged.
French-based exporter Thomas Lomas, whose contract with Ipswich shipping company Ferryways UK to ship sheep to Belgium was withdrawn in September after pressure from animal rights activists, has set a deadline of midnight tomorrow before beginning legal proceedings.
He warned that if protesters wanted to “go down the route of confrontation” he would muster his “troops”.
Mr Lomas, who lives in Montpellier and has faced protests around the Britain for decades, told the EADT that his business was legal and that “enough was enough”.
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He said he would look to use new powers against animal rights protesters outlined in the Queen's Speech, although a Home Office spokeswoman said yesterday they would not be in force for at least months.
Protests at Ipswich port flared in September when it emerged that Ferryways had shipped several cargoes of sheep through the terminal.
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Members of Kent Against Live Export (KALE) alerted activists in East Anglia who staged demonstrations at the port.
Telephone numbers for Ferryways, as well as its other major customers such as furniture giant Ikea, were published on the internet with activists urged to call and register complaints.
Lines were jammed as warnings were issued that welfare groups across the UK would be mobilised if Ferryways continued its trade with Mr Lomas.
Bosses suspended the contract because of the disruption.
Mr Lomas met with KALE chairman Ian Birchall in Dover last week to seek a compromise.
He said live exports would never stop and urged KALE to allow him free passage through the roll-on roll-off port of Ipswich because he claimed that was better for animal welfare.
When his request was rejected, he wrote to KALE this week warning them of legal action.
In his letter, obtained by the EADT, he bemoaned Ipswich's protesters “campaign of fear”.
He said: “This approach is unlawful…and cannot be tolerated. I put you on notice that unless you reconsider your stance by midnight on Sunday, November 28, legal proceedings…will be used against activist organisations.”
He added yesterday he was using the same lawyers who recently obtained an injunction against anti-vivisection protesters in Oxford.
KALE yesterday dismissed the threat and vowed to stop live exports wherever they took place.
“We will use any and every legal method available to achieve this end,” KALE chairman Mr Birchall wrote in a letter to the exporter.
“If…you would use Ferryways as the carrier or members feel we are obliged to inform all Ferryways' other legitimate customers of their involvement in this vile trade.”
Mick Percival, Ferryways operations manager at Ipswich, said: “As long as there would be disruption there would be no shipments.
“But if Mr Lomas is able to stop the demonstrations, then we would take his traffic.”