Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Hendon MP and supporters continue battle to save wild animals from circuses

Posted: 27 September 2011

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Matthew Offord meets local supporters and lends weight to Animal Defenders International’s campaign for a ban on wild animal circuses

Matthew Offord, Conservative MP for Hendon, today made a stand outside the Hendon Library for wild animals currently languishing in UK circuses by backing the campaign of London based Animal Defenders International (ADI), who is seeking an outright ban on their use in circuses.

Mr Offord met with ADI representatives and supporters and pledged to continue to put pressure on the Government to make the ban a reality. ADI congratulated him for continuing to speak out on behalf of wild animals in circuses, and will continue to work with him on this important animal welfare issue.

Matthew said: “I am fully behind ADI’s campaign to ban wild animals in circuses, and applaud the hard work they have done to make progress on this issue over the years.

”Britain is a nation of animal lovers, however while some of our other European neighbours like Austria, Portugal and Denmark have already taken steps to ban wild animals in circuses, our own Government is falling behind.

“Parliament has called for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in June and the public are also overwhelmingly in favour, so it is time for Government to do the right thing, listen to the will of the country and implement a ban once and for all.”

Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “We are extremely grateful to Mr Offord for his support, and for speaking out on behalf of the animals who suffer day in and day out in travelling circuses.

“Our undercover exposes of the circus industry in the UK and around the world have shown that confinement, deprivation and abuse are endemic to the circus industry. For instance, the shocking abuse endured by Anne the elephant at the winter quarters of the Bobby Roberts Super Circus earlier this year brought the circus industry to its knees and demonstrated perfectly why an outright ban is long overdue.

“The country and MPs have made it abundantly clear that they demand a ban as the current system is failing to protect animals, and it is crystal clear that a ban on wild animals in circuses is the only route now available for Government to pursue.”

ADI supporter and Finchley resident Steve McGuinness said: “To continue to allow wild animals to be shown at circuses reflects badly on us as a society. How can we support this cruel practice in the name of entertainment?”

Fay Jenkinson from Cricklewood said: “Licensing is never going to work. Even with the best intentions circuses cannot give the animals decent welfare and freedom. I say to the Government stop ignoring the 95% of the public who demand a ban, and get on with it.”

Mr Offord played a key role in the Commons Debate in June, criticising the Government’s false claims of ‘legal difficulties’ in taking action to protect circus animals. The Government has since stated that despite this overwhelming show of support for a ban, it plans to proceed with a licensing system instead.

The Defra Minister Caroline Spelman has claimed that banning wild animals in circuses would be illegal under EU law and may also be in breach of the Human Rights Act. However, ADI has published expert legal opinion from independent parties that categorically states that there are no legal obstacles to proceed with a ban.

Earlier this year, ADI released the results of its independent online poll carried out by YouGov, which asked impartial participants aged over 18 to what extent they would support or oppose a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A massive 72% of the public backed a ban with only 8% against – almost 3 out 4 members of the public therefore wanted a ban.

In 2010, a public consultation by Defra (Department of Enviroment, Food and Rural Affairs) resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, India. Mexico and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Greece.

All of these countries have looked at the evidence and listened to the will of the people and done the right thing by implementing bans. It is high time that the UK government did the same.

Craig Willey from Mill Hill concluded by saying: “I came here today to support the continuing battle to outlaw the cruel and archaic practice of wild animals in circuses. It is very important that we keep up the pressure on the Government to implement the will of the people and of parliament.”
ENDS

Notes to Editors

Media Contact:

Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International, 07716 018250, 0207 7630 3344, prdesk@ad-international.org

Photographs and footage is available. Interview opportunities are available on request.

Photo caption: Left to right: ADI Supporters Vania Lawrence, Patricia Willey, Valerie Lawrence, Fay Jenkinson, Craig Willey, Kerry Folan, Deborah Willey, Matthew Offord MP, Rob Jenkins, Peter Wise, Steve McGuinness, Tracey Gascoyne, Alexandra Cardenas, ADI.

Mr Offord’s speech to the House of Commons, on 23rd June, can be read in full here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110623/debtext/110623-0003.htm#11062335001860

In June this year, a backbench debate saw over 50 MPs from all of the major parties vote unanimously for a motion tabled by Mark Pritchard MP, calling for an outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses under the Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Though not legally binding, Parliament is generally understood to have to respect the will of the house.

ADI instructed Bircham Dyson Bell (http://www.bdb-law.co.uk), leading Solicitors and Parliamentary Agents, to research the conformity of a ban on wild animals in circuses with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Union Services Directive.

They analysed if a ban could potentially affect a person’s right to respect for private and family life under the UK’s Human Rights Act (HRA) (article 8) and the protection for property (article 1 of protocol 1 HRA). The advice concluded that a ban would be within the ‘margin of appreciation’ afforded to the UK.
Furthermore, the legal advice is that if a ban is proposed because it is considered ethically wrong in itself to use wild animals in circuses, a ban would be the only measure which would achieve this public interest aim and would be automatically proportionate. Therefore, the ban would not be in breach of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

In addition, it was concluded that the UK would not be in contravention of the EU Services Directive by implementing national legislation which banned the use of wild animals in circuses and it would not be unlawful under EU law generally.

An ADI investigation into the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus this year revealed a staggeringly high level of violence and serious animal husbandry flaws. Incidents included Anne, an elderly, severely arthritic 57 year old elephant, being hit with a metal pitchfork and kicked around the face and body 48 times over the period of observation by workers, who are also seen beating and spitting on a camel and beating miniature ponies and horses on numerous occasions.

ADI’s exposé of the horrific abuse of elephants at the Great British Circus in 2009 put wild animals in circuses back on the political agenda, and their evidence was presented to Government which helped prompt a public consultation on animal circuses in December 2009. The distressing evidence can be found at the following link: http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment/go.php?id=1887&ssi=10.

Between 1996 and 1998, ADI field officers worked undercover inside three circus establishments run by different members of the Chipperfield family: Chipperields’ circus as it toured with animals owned by Dicky Chipperfield; Chipperfield Enterprises the Oxfordshire lion and tiger breeding centre owned by Dicky Chipperfield; and Mary Chipperfield Promotions, the huge training and animal dealing operation run by Mary Chipperfield in Hampshire.

About Animal Defenders International (ADI):
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. ADI-gathered evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.


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