Geronimo the condemned alpaca is hoping for a last-minute legal lifeline today that will stop him being put down for supposedly having TB.
A High Court judge is expected to inform owner Helen Macdonald whether he is prepared to grant a new injunction to halt the killing until she has a chance to present fresh arguments in court.
She wants a judicial review into his death sentence after the Mail revealed how other healthy alpacas were wrongly slaughtered after testing positive for bovine TB despite being clear of the disease.
A High Court judge is expected to inform owner Helen Macdonald whether he is prepared to grant a new injunction to halt the killing
Supporters have vowed to form a human shield around Geronimo if Defra vets arrive to put him down
The judge is expected to give his ruling to her and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today.
Geronimo, eight, could enjoy a reprieve of weeks if the judge decides her argument needs to be considered at a full court hearing.
However, if he rejects her petition, then Geronimo’s only legal protection – a 72-hour stay of execution – expires at 4pm.
Supporters have vowed to form a human shield around Geronimo if Defra vets arrive to put him down.
Miss Macdonald said: ‘Although a weight has been taken off my shoulders, the war has still to be won. The court of public opinion seems to be in our favour. We just need to translate that into a court of law. I’m beginning to think this nightmare could be coming to an end.’
Geronimo’s plight has won the support of celebrities including Joanna Lumley and BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham.
The Save Geronimo petition now has more than 130,000 signatories and several MPs have raised questions in the Commons about the culling of healthy alpacas.
Geronimo has been kept in isolation at veterinary nurse Miss Macdonald’s farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire, since he was imported from New Zealand in 2017.
Geronimo’s plight has won the support of celebrities including Joanna Lumley and BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham
She claims Enferplex blood tests he was given were flawed because Defra insisted he was injected with a protein called tuberculin to make them more sensitive. Critics say this prompts an immune response, causing a false positive test for bovine TB, but Government vets have rejected the claim.
A Defra spokesman said ‘nobody wants to cull infected animals’, adding: ‘We are sympathetic to Miss Macdonald’s situation. For this reason the options for Geronimo have been carefully considered.
‘Bovine tuberculosis is one of the greatest animal health threats we face today and causes devastation and distress for farming families and rural communities across the country while costing the taxpayer around £100million every year.’
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