Remembering “Boxy” the Bull

The recent news story about Geronimo the alpaca brings to mind one of Barker Gotelee’s more memorable cases which, thanks in part to Barker Gotelee, resulted in a happier ending than that of poor Geronimo.

Back in 2009, Hallmark “Boxy” Boxster, a Champion British blond Bull owned by one of Yorkshire’s top cattle breeders, had won his category in every show he entered. In April 2010, however, after a test for Bovine TB suggested that Boxy may be a carrier of the disease, DEFRA ordered that the bull should be slaughtered.

Boxy’s owners, the Jackson family, maintained that the tests had been incorrectly carried out and decided to fight the order. Barker Gotelee co-founder Richard Barker recalls being asked by farming friends in Yorkshire to meet with the Jacksons:

“I met the family in York and l learned their NFU lawyers had conceded there was little chance of persuading either DEFRA or the Court that the notice should be withdrawn, I considered that view was wrong.”

Richard and fellow Barker Gotelee lawyer, Dermott Thomas decided to take on the case and join the Jacksons in their fight to overturn the slaughter notice from DEFRA.

After many months of legal wrangling the case came before the High Court, where DEFRA tried to argue that its breach of procedure was ‘trivial and irrelevant’. The judge however disagreed, ruling that DEFRA had broken its own rules by mixing two blood samples and that the diagnosis was therefore invalid. A few months later Boxy was formally declared free of the disease and was finally safe.

The full story of Boxy and the Jacksons’ ordeal can be read in a book published by the daughter of the family, Kate McNeil: ‘Boxy & Me – A Love that Never Died’ which “… tells the highs and lows faced by the family, the tears and laughter, and the truth behind the bull”.

If you require advice on any similar issues or would like to enquire about any of our agricultural law services, please get in touch with one of our agricultural law experts.