10 February 2003
Application for Judicial Review
Hughes v National Assembly for Wales / DEFRA
I write to you with regards to a judgment which you made on 21 August 2001 against me in my application for leave to apply for a judicial review of the mass cull of sheep on the Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales.
On 16 August 2001 you made an order for a hearing which took place on 21 August, attended by both respondents; the National Assembly for Wales and DEFRA.
You concluded that my prospects of success were poor and that I had insufficient standing, even though I had ten hefted sheep grazing on one of the hefts in the Brecon Beacons, and also that the case was of public importance.
My initial claim had been solely against the National Assembly for Wales and a letter of intent had been sent on 1 August 2001 to Mr Carwyn Jones, the Minister for Rural Affairs at that time, but he had refused to acknowledge receipt and DEFRA had insisted that the Secretary of State contended that she was the sole respondent and not the NAW. This statement is on the front page of the skeleton argument on behalf of DEFRA.
Nevertheless, you made an order for costs against me for both parties, in spite of the fact that you refused permission. These costs amounted to #13,000 for DEFRA and #3,800 for the NAW. The Civil Procedure rules supplementary section to part 54 states quite clearly that even if the defendants attend a hearing for permission the court does not generally award costs against the claimant. I am enclosing the relevant page for your information. Therefore, I would wish to know the reason for your making an order for such costs against me whilst realising that I was impecunious and also that the civil procedure rules indicate that costs are not generally awarded at a permission hearing.
The present state of affairs is such that DEFRA is now pursuing me for costs which I am unable to pay; some #17,000. I have offered to pay #30 per month which is all I am able to afford as we are presently on income support as a family.
In July 2002 I placed an application in the ECHR and this is still awaiting a decision for admissibility. All aspects of the case were placed in the ECHR, including the issue of costs.
My crime seems to be the fact that I made an application to the High Court for an injunction and judicial review against the killing of many thousands of healthy hefted sheep; sheep which did not have FMD.
The witness statement of the CVO, Mr J Scudamore, contained a major error which vastly strengthened the argument of the Secretary of State, but due to the evidence being sent to my solicitor late on the eve of the hearing I was unable to discover the error until after the hearing. The error was with regards to ‘140 rams’ full of live virus but I later obtained information from the alleged owner that in fact they had never had 140 rams at all, let alone rams full of virus. In the absence of this false information there was no evidence of any FMD virus on the Brecon Beacons which should have given rise to such extreme action of culling 20,000 hefted sheep shown to be healthy on testing.
I have been informed that I have a right to request a meeting with yourself, being as you made the order for costs. If forced to pay these costs, which are a vast sum to us as a family, then we will be placed in a position of penury for the remainder of my lifetime, and the impact on our 12 year old son is unacceptable to me.
I trust that you will give due consideration to my request and I look forward to your reply.
Janet C Hughes (Miss)