Pig cruelty case finally goes to trial - UPDATE
Despite confusing information from the WA Department of Agriculture and Food, long serving Board Member of Australian Pork Limited (APL), Mr Neil Ferguson, will stand trial for animal cruelty tomorrow, 25th November, in Perth.
Ten charges of cruelty to pigs have been laid against Mr Ferguson and many other charges against members of his staff at Westpork Ltd.
The Criminal Registry has confirmed that six matters are listed for trial under section 19 (1) & 19 (3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act, and that another four charges are listed for an argument on the particulars. The matter is set down for a full day hearing from 9.30 am.
Westpork and Ferguson have been charged with an additional four charges of animal cruelty not in duplication. Further charges are set down for mention on 14th December.
This is the second time that Mr Ferguson has appeared before the courts on charges of cruelty yet requests for Mr Ferguson to be removed from the Board of APL, Australia’s peak industry body for pork producers had been dismissed.
Ferguson is also the Chairperson of the WA Agriculture Produce Commission Pork Producers Committee that funds the West Australian Pork Producers Association (WAPPA) and industry training.
Concerns are mounting that a recent reshuffle of the State’s Animal Welfare Legislation administration will allow the Westpork cruelty matters to dissipate while Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) struggle to get themselves prepared to for the looming trial date.
“We are concerned that the change in administration from Local Government to DAFWA will mean that this matter will not be given the full attention that it needs. If DAFWA fumble because they lack preparedness, Mr Ferguson could walk free on a technicality for a second time. Our inquiries so far have given cause for concern,” says Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer of Humane Choice. “Our calls to the Department in the lead up to Friday’s case indicate they are confused about Friday’s matter and were unsure if it was even a trial date. The Department state that they are committed to monitoring welfare and enforcing the Act so we certainly hope that they stand by that statement and ensure their staff are fully engaged for this trial.”
DAFWA does have a role to play in protecting animals from cruelty. Let’s hope they are on the ball for this one.