Campaigners have lost the latest round of their legal battle over badger culling after judges rejected an argument of “enforceable legitimate expectation” for independent monitoring. 

The Badger Trust had accused the Government of acting unlawfully by allowing the latest badger culls to go ahead without an independent expert panel (IEP) to monitor whether the animals were being killed in a humane way.

It asked three judges at a recent hearing at the Court of Appeal in London to rule that there was a “legitimate expectation” that an IEP would be put in place.

But, in a decision announced today (October 29), Lord Justice Davis, Lord Justice Christopher Clarke and Lord Justice Bean dismissed the trust’s case.

The trust said it was disappointed by the judges’ decision and called on the secretary of state Liz Truss to “not move the goalposts again”.

The court challenge came after the Government gave the go-ahead to a second year of culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset as part of efforts to tackle bovine TB.

The trust told the court it had understood the secretary of state had promised an IEP would oversee the monitoring and analysis of the results of the culls while she was still considering a wider roll out. However, although the IEP had concluded the first year of the pilot culls had not been a success, Mrs Truss decided not to roll out culling more widely; she did not use an IEP for the second year of the pilot.

The trust challenged this decision, claiming her “promise” amounted to an enforceable legitimate expectation and so any decision to roll out more widely after the second year of the pilots would be unlawful.  

But the Court of Appeal rejected this argument, noting the Government’s policy could be “said to be characterised by a tone of optimism as to the likely success of the pilot scheme in the first year.”

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