The outgoing president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has stated a plan to scrap the badger cull is a populist move.

In his last presidential speech in Manchester yesterday, Robin Hargreaves said the controversial cull was one of the veterinary association’s biggest challenges.

He stressed that despite mounting pressure from the media and public, he was proud BVA stood its ground and “didn’t take a populist line”.

The association faced enormous criticism from the public and animal welfare campaigners when it renewed its support for the cull earlier this year.

Prior to this, the BVA had been further criticised for “sitting on the fence”.

Mr Hargreaves told delegates at the members’ day yesterday (September 25) the cull remains an emotive issue. He said: “It will come as no surprise one of the biggest challenges I have faced this year is in managing our response to the pilot badger culls in England.

“It remains a hugely emotive and difficult issue and we acknowledge strong differences of opinion in our membership. It has not been an easy process and I am proud we have managed to maintain a fragile consensus through our council for our science and evidence-led position.

“That is thanks in large part to the willingness of our divisions and our members from different ends of the spectrum of views to come together to analyse and debate the issues.

“I am also proud that despite enormous public and media pressure, we didn’t take a populist line. We considered the evidence in great detail, debated it from all angles through our committees and council, and took a view on how we can deliver the greatest benefits in terms of disease control and eradication.”

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