Farmer's Victory After Three-Year Battle

UK - A council was today accused of trying to “criminalise” farmers after farmer David Williams, 52, claimed victory in a three-year battle to win justice.
calendar icon 16 May 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Mr Williams was due to begin his appeal at Mold Crown Court against two counts of failing to properly dispose of animal carcasses. But instead, trading standards officers from Conwy County Borough Council decided at the eleventh hour not to contest the appeal which means Mr Williams has been cleared of all charges. Two other charges of causing unnecessary suffering to lambs were dropped by the prosecution in October 2009.

However, Mr Williams’ joy at finally gaining justice was tempered by the death of his father Douglas Williams in March this year aged 84 and the fact he did not live to see his son’s victory.

Speaking outside court today, the family’s solicitor and farming specialist David Kirwan, of law firm Kirwans, said: “This is one of the worst abuses of the law I have seen by a council against a respected, hard-working and award-winning farming family”.

“What makes it worse is that Douglas Williams did not live to see his son exonerated of all charges and the family is in no doubt that the stress of the last three years did not do his health the slightest bit of good”.

“Councils like Conwy seem hell-bent on criminalising the hard-working farming community of North Wales. There was never any justification for bringing this case against Mr Williams and it is a scandal that it has been allowed to drag on as long as it has”.

“The cost to the taxpayer alone will be in excess of £50,000” and the Williams family themselves have also spent a considerable sum of money paying legal fees to fight this vindictive and totally unnecessary prosecution”.

Mr Kirwan continued to discuss how the Williams family were not the only ones, the Kirwan law firm are also representing other farmers across Wales and England in simmilar situations.

The Williams’, who regularly win best prizes at auction, have almost 6,000 sheep and 450 cattle, all of which were inspected by DEFRA, with only two giving any cause for concern. The farm’s standard of husbandry is said to be in the top five per cent of Welsh sheep producers.

Yet, despite all of this information, Conwy trading standards remained intent on bringing the prosecution against Mr Williams, whose children also now work on the farm making them a four-generation farming family.

Mr Kirwan added: “This farming family has lived in fear for almost three years of the potentially catastrophic impact these groundless allegations could have not only on their financial well-being, but just as seriously on their reputation as sheep farmers".

“It is dreadful that farmers are being criminalised and tarred with the same brush as murderers and rapists. The case against Mr Williams could and should have been resolved without ever coming to court, but this is something the over zealous officials at Conwy Council were sadly never willing to consider".

“Justice has been done today – it is just a shame that it has taken almost three years of stress, heartache, tens of thousands of pounds in unnecessary legal costs and, most tragically of all, the death of Mr Williams’ father, to bring about the only sensible outcome”.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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