DEFRA spent more than £130,000 of taxpayers' money in an attempt to justify the Department's stance in this case. The raw emotions of the Boxster case bring into focus the worry that at present there are many other bovines killed on evidence that may be far from water tight - but most farmers are unable to fight a bureaucracy that is adamant about its own right to withstand challengeThe Champion British Blonde bull, Hallmark Boxster, won his category in every show he entered in 2009. His value can undoubtedly be calculated in five figures - but DEFRA wanted him slaughtered after the gamma interferon test gave a "marginal indication" that he was a TB carrier. His owners continued to maintain that the tests had been incorrectly carried out and they fought for a retest against all the might of a DEFRA determined to slaughter the bull rather than risk it being shown that their test had been wrong.
The bull will be five years old in October 2011 and has been out of action for nearly 18 months of the prime of his life. The story begins at the bottom of the page (then scroll upwards.)
January 11th 2012 ~ "Boxster's Story - The Truth Behind The Lies" the book will soon be out.
Visit www.boxstersstory.co.uk/ for details ".....: The department argued in court its breach of procedure was trivial and irrelevant. And it continued to hope and believe it would be proved right in the long run. This story tells the highs and lows faced by the family, the tears and laughter and the truth behind the lies..."
Dec 12th 2011 ~ "Pinches vary. Animals vary. Kate is writing a book explaining how they came to doubt almost everything the vets said was certain."
The Yorkshire Post gives an update on Hallmark Boxster today, reminding us that the whole sorry business "cost £124,000 in legal fees to get the all-clear Ken always predicted, plus 18 months of lost business, plus time at the High Court and the stress of doing all that on a remortgage and an overdraft. Defra offered £90,000 and he has now settled for it, rather than go back to court."The Jackson's daughter, Kate, started off as a lab technician.
"And knowing how easily a blood sample could be spoiled, she led the attack on Defra’s insistence that there was no reason to doubt its test on Boxster. Technicians had had difficulty getting a sample and had mixed two.
On the way to proving this was a serious error, Kate was amazed at the number of ways in which the existing ramshackle system might get it wrong. For example, the ‘skin test' for TB, on which so much depends, amounts to the difference in the bumps made by two pinches of flesh – one before an injection of sterilised TB culture and one after. Pinches vary. Animals vary. Kate is writing a book explaining how they came to doubt almost everything the vets said was certain.
"One thing I am sure of is they should be taking a long hard look at the whole system."It is good to know from the article that "there should be calves next spring as an entirely natural consequence of Boxster’s exuberant return to the herd in August."
August 27th 2011 ~ "Upon being let loose from the pen the animal charged gleefully into the field, playing with the other members of the herd and lifting his legs high in the air..."
The photos in the Yorkshire Post's article show both human and bovine joy. The article:"...he and the herd have finally been given the all-clear by vets... Upon being let loose from the pen the animal charged gleefully into the field, playing with the other members of the herd and lifting his legs high in the air, cheered on by the whole Jackson family.
Mr Jackson’s daughter Kate McNeil ..."I’ve only just stopped crying. It doesn’t seem real. We have had fantastic support from so many people."...." (Read article)
DEFRA spent more than £130,000 of taxpayers' money in an attempt to justify the Department's stance in this case. The raw emotions of the Boxster case bring into focus the worry that at present there are many other bovines killed on evidence that may be far from water tight - but most farmers are unable to fight a bureaucracy that is adamant about its own right to withstand challenge.
August 20th 2011 ~ The legal costs of court action over Hallmark Boxter - " a huge waste of public money".
The Yorkshire Post reports:
"Defra said the bill comprises Mr Jackson's legal costs and the fees of its counsel. But last night Mr Jackson said: "My legal costs alone have come to £114,000, Defra have offered me £90,000 and I will have to take advice on this. I would not like to think how much this has cost the taxpayer overall - it has been a huge waste of public money."
August 16th 2011 ~ Vindication at long last for Hallmark Boxster
It has taken 17 months and a great deal of resilience and determination for the Jacksons to prove that their beautiful British Blonde bull, Hallmark Boxster, has always been free of bovine TB. On Sunday night DEFRA confirmed:
"This bull can be regarded as officially TB-free."Characteristically, no apology for DEFRA's behaviour has been offered nor any admission as to how much taxpayer's money has been spent by DEFRA in trying to get the bull killed and forgotten. The slaughter order to kill Hallmark Boxster was issued in April 2010 by the Leeds division of Animal Health. DEFRA has agreed to pay costs within 10 days. See Yorkshire Post
August 15th 2011 ~ We wait for confirmation of the news that Hallmark Boxster has passed the next test
The whole sorry story of this case is below. We should be most grateful for any confirmation that the Jacksons' nightmare is now over.
July 18th 2011 ~ A poignant moment at the Great Yorkshire Show
From the Yorkshire Post "....The undoubted highlight came on the show's second day when Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of York, visited the show.
Charles, the patron of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, who organise the show, was making his first visit to the Harrogate showground since 2006.
During their stay the couple enjoyed sampling some quintessential Yorkshire fare such as Wensleydale cheese and Yorkshire sloe gin, as well as meeting with the public. Perhaps one of the more poignant moments came when the Prince spoke with Doncaster farmer Ken Jackson, who has fought an ongoing battle to prove that his award-winning bull Hallmark Boxster, was not infected with TB..."
12 July 2011 ~ Hallmark Boxster's son, Stubbs Walden Endeavour, judged best male and reserve junior champion in his breed
Yorkshire Post article about the Yorkshire Show
"One of the most poignant triumphs of the opening rounds of the beef competition was a rosette for Yorkshire farmer Ken Jackson who has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with Government officials.
Apart from an outing to the Lincoln Show earlier this summer, Mr Jackson, from Stubbs Walden, near Doncaster, had not shown any cattle for well over a year until yesterday.
The well-known British Blondes breeder has been preoccupied with a legal fight with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to save his best-ever Blonde bull, Hallmark Boxster, condemned in March 2010 on the basis of a badly-performed TB test.
Boxster remains in quarantine, pending a final round of the argument, but one of his sons, Stubbs Walden Endeavour, born September 2009, was judged best male and reserve junior champion in his breed yesterday. Mr Jackson said: "It's nice to be back." ....."
June 12th 2011 ~ Hallmark Boxster passes new skin test "with flying colours" - but DEFRA now demands another
Owners of the champion bull, whose story is below, were told late yesterday afternoon that he had passed a skin test performed on Tuesday. There was no swelling at all when the skin test was performed.Now, according to this report in the Yorkshire Post DEFRA is demanding another blood test since the first one "clotted".
".. because there was once an infected animal in our herd, DEFRA is insisting on the extra test - although the rest of the herd has been testing clean for ages and if Boxster had ever been infected, he would be riddled with it by now.Read article in the Yorkshire Post
DEFRA has failed to give us an understandable reason why they are treating him differently or why they cannot wait 60 days. We want to establish whether they are quoting the law at us or just their own policy.
We don't want to speculate on motives. We only want an end to all this. We have allowed DEFRA to take two blood samples and they have made a mess of both, through no fault of ours.."
May 7th 2011 ~ Hallmark Boxter: DEFRA statement "We have decided not to appeal. ..our immediate priority is to continue to work with the owners of Boxster to resolve the TB problem in their herd."
There is no TB problem in the Jackson's herd, and the idea that DEFRA has been "working with the owners" is perhaps an odd way of describing the row. DEFRA's statement evidently infuriated the farmer, Mr Jackson, who is quoted in the Yorkshire Post :
"I haven't got a TB problem. I have had seven consecutive all-clears, which involved Defra vets walking past Boxster to the rest of the herd and refusing to give him the re-test we asked for in the first place.DEFRA has not yet paid them the £15,000 downpayment on his costs ordered by Mr Justice McCombe to be paid within 14 days (See below) on April 14th.
Officially, the positive test on him is null and void. He is only still in quarantine because I am voluntarily going along with Defra's instructions, although they are driving me to the point of explosion."
April 16th 2011 ~ Another note on Hallmark Boxter
We hear from another dairy farmer:
"...The bull failed gammaIFN - which is not unusual. But this was after a catalogue of errors in testing several animals too big to fit into Mr. Jackson's crush. Vials dropped, vials mixed, you name it - it happened.Many thanks for this clarification. We learn too that the camelids treated with Isoniazid (isonicotinic acid hydrazide), the antimicrobial that has been used as a first-line agent for prophylaxis and treatment of tuberculosis since 1952, have not survived. As for poor Boxter, the rules are that gammaIFN is a secondary test, and even if he passed that, he would still have to pass a skin test to be cleared. As we remember from the bovineTB Blogspot posting April 22, 2008 "His master's voice - GammaIFN"
But one for Dr. Fink re semen. If a farm is under TB restriction, then no embryo work on females can be undertaken, and if a bull has EVER been on a farm while it it has been under a TB2 restriction, then no semen from it can be sold out of the UK. Ever. So it makes collection unviable. While the bull is in limbo like this, no semen company could legally touch him for collection anyway, as technically he is a TB reactor, having failed a designated test, albeit a secondary one. North calls it 'proof unto itself'. The test could have been carried out by a one eyed maverick, on the wrong farm and on the wrong animal, but the documentation stands. Or stood, in this case.
So what happens now, I don't know. Defra could not afford to lose this - but they have."
"..... Mr. Maidment to - err, retest his cattle. Defra still shot the cattle. The gammaIFN pilot study was a farce, and then this blasted test was launched on the industry with Defra knowing that it had a very dodgy sensitivety."The posting is well worth reading in full. Realising that it is three years old and yet so very little - still - has changed for dairy farmers, does nothing to dispel the frustration and dismay.
April 16th 2011 ~ a complete lack of imagination and enterprise
An email from Dr Colin Fink (link mended) sums up what must be the reaction of many to the expensive court action taken by DEFRA in the case of the prize bull, Hallmark Boxter - kept in isolation - whose owner was not permitted a retest when, it seems, DEFRA's officials conducting the first test had not followed the permitted procedure.
April 14th 2011 ~ Judge, quashing slaughter notice on prize-winning bull, tells DEFRA it had made "a policy mountain out of what was a farm molehill".
Mr Justice McCombe has reprieved Hallmark Boxter (see below) The bull had tested TB-positive last April.but his owner said the sample was invalid because DEFRA officials had not followed the correct procedures. He wanted the sample retaken, even offering to pay the costs. In reprieving the bull, the judge refused DEFRA permission to appeal, although the Department can still apply to the Court of Appeal. The case will cost £15,000 to be paid by DEFRA within 14 days. Full story at Fwi
January 23rd 2011 ~ "Boxy" the bull reprieved while his owner makes one last bid for a re-test
Hallmark Boxter is an extremely valuable prize-winning British Blonde bull. It tested positive for TB in April and was due to be slaughtered last Wednesday. However, a High Court judge has allowed time for his owner, Ken Jackson, to appeal on the grounds that the blood sample had been wrongly carried out last April. Evidence was heard in court from Professor Paul Torgerson that the sample might well have been contaminated. See FWi
1st September 2010 ~ Many will be watching and waiting to see the outcome of the "Hallmark Boxster" case
The Champion British Blonde bull, Hallmark Boxster, won his category in every show he entered last year. His value can undoubtedly be calculated in five figures - but DEFRA wants him slaughtered after the gamma interferon test gave a "marginal indication" that he was a TB carrier.
His owner, Ken Jackson, is not the first to have challenged such a diagnosis, nor the first to be refused when he asked to pay privately for a retest .
After several months of stand-off, DEFRA has now been told by the High Court judge in the case, Mr Justice Collins, that the prize bull should be given another chance and vets should indeed re-run the test.
It will be of interest to many to see if DEFRA is prepared to run the risk of a re-test's suggesting that the original diagnosis was wrong. Although the gamma interferon test is the best we have in the armoury at present it is not infallible and more effective alternatives could be available - given political will. (The commercially available form of the assay, Enzyme Linked ImmunoSpot (ELISPOT) T-SPOT® TB (Oxford Immunotec, Abingdon, UK), now has European regulatory approval for use on humans.) The Welsh government claimed, perhaps rather unwisely, in May 2007 during the Shambo case, that the Defra tests were "99.9 per cent accurate". In the same month we were informed by an eminent microbiologist that a positive skin reaction to bTB is "not more than an indicator for the animal having met the infection and raised antibodies and a white cell memory." (read in full)