RSPCA fails to prosecute farm over alleged pig mistreatment
Published:  23 January, 2014

The RSPCA has abandoned plans to prosecute a farm for allegedly mistreating pigs, citing a lack of evidence.

The charity launched an investigation into Wood Common Farm, in Cheshire, after an undercover investigation by welfare campaigners Hillside Animal Sanctuary made allegations of animal welfare failures at the pig unit.

The farm, which supplied supermarkets and McDonald’s, was suspended from the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme in August 2013 while the investigation was carried out, including a report from an independent vet.

However, the charity has now concluded, after reviewing all the material gathered, there is not enough evidence for a successful prosecution,

A spokesperson said: “On receiving the video evidence from Hillside in August 2013, the RSPCA launched a thorough investigation. A case file was prepared and sent to our prosecutions department, which included a full report from an independent vet, specialising in pigs.
“The vet had access to all the witness statements and the farm’s vet records, as well as viewing the entire unedited footage provided by Hillside.
“He was unable to conclude that all three pigs were not receiving the appropriate vet treatment. On the basis of this evidence, he was unable to conclude that any animals had suffered or that there was evidence of any breaches of welfare legislation.

“The decision was made that we could not move forward with a prosecution as, based on independent expert advice, we concluded there was not a realistic chance of conviction given the evidence.”

However, the farm does remain suspended from the Freedom Food scheme. The spokesperson added: “While we could not move forward with an animal welfare prosecution, due to the lack of admissible evidence, the RSPCA did indentify a number of breaches of both legal and Freedom Food welfare standards during a visit by our farm livestock officer.”