Investigation launched into alleged pig cruelty

Investigations are underway after animal rights activists published “shocking” footage of alleged animal cruelty on a Norfolk-based pig farm.

The RSPCA is now investigating after videos and pictures were revealed by a vegan group called Animal Equality, and published in the Sunday Times, claiming ‘pain, suffering and exploitation of pigs on a huge scale’ at Harling Farm, Norfolk, a Red Tractor assured operation.

The group said it has 200 hours of footage and 300 photos, gathered during a two month undercover investigation during the summer last year, which they claim shows animals being beaten and killed, piglets being thrown by their legs and ears and animals being left dead or dying within pens.

In a statement, the group said the results of its investigation revealed “a shocking insight into the British pig industry and demonstrate that, regardless of whether a farm is labelled as ‘Quality Assured’, there exists pain, suffering and exploitation on a massive scale”.

Stephen Brown, who runs the farm, told the BBC it was co-operating with investigators. “We are horrified to learn what has allegedly happened and have dealt with the staff involved appropriately. We take animal welfare extremely seriously and place it at the heart of everything we do here.”

David Clarke, chief executive of Assured Food Standards, said: “The behaviour shown on the video has no place within the assurance scheme and we completely condemn it.

“As soon as we were alerted to the issue on Friday of last week we immediately removed the farm from the scheme on the basis of the video evidence and we have had an inspector on the farm during the weekend.

“UK pig farmers have some of the highest standards in Europe and such incidents, although rare, simply cannot be tolerated. We are saddened that all of the hard work that our farmers do to uphold the standards could be undermined by one isolated incident such as this. If the allegations are proven we would encourage prosecution of those responsible.

“We believe that our scheme has the most robust inspection regime in the world. We are reviewing our systems in light of the lessons learned here and will almost certainly revert to more unannounced inspections.”