High Court Legal Challenge

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

Government Ministers Gove & Leadsom on trial over decision to approve biggest slaughter of a protected species in living memory.

The Battle for Badgers returns to the High Court on Monday 9th July as Ecologist and Badger Trust member Tom Langton challenges aspects of the hugely controversial badger cull policy, supported by The Badger Trust. The Badger Trust is also a part of The Badger Crowd; a fundraising and support coalition including Badger Groups and the public via crowdfunding appeals.

Over 30,000 badgers have been killed as a result of the badger cull policy since 2013 at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of over £50 million or £1,100 per badger.

Despite having no reliable evidence to prove local massacres of 70% of badgers can have any visible impact in lowering bovine TB in cattle, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove is preparing a further expansion of the badger killing zones this summer. This could result in around 120,000 badgers to be gunned down by 2020 and up to 500,000 by 2038, if culling is not curtailed.

Incompetence, negligence and deceit will be alleged at the heart of the policy making process in Defra and Downing Street. The High Court will hear that the Environment Secretaries Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove and ultimately the Prime Minister Theresa May, approved open ended supplementary badger cull licences without any scientific justification, proper consultation or adequate environmental assessments. This has lead to badgers being killed in sensitive wildlife habitats without essential precautionary measures required under EU and British habitat protection regulations and legislation.

Speaking in advance of the High Court hearing the CEO of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer said;

"The Government has no credibility left when it comes to the disastrous badger cull policy. The High Court will hear evidence that Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove lacked proper scientific evidence and overstepped their positions of power and influence in Defra to push forward a major expansion of the badger cull policy to appease the farming and shooting lobby, despite growing evidence the mass slaughter of badgers since 2013 has been cruel, hugely costly and without any visible benefit.

The Prime Minister must also bear responsibility for playing politics with wildlife and allowing the mass destruction of badgers that in our view contravenes the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. This could result in precious wildlife habitats of international importance being threatened in the drive to kill more badgers, to fulfill political promises to the industrial farming lobby. Tom Langton will bring evidence that the proper processes were not followed to reach the decision to expand the cull and this means the Government is in breach of both British and European laws.

As a result of these actions, badgers are being pushed to the verge of extinction in areas of the country that they have inhabited since the Ice Age. The Government has to stop playing the badger blame game and focus on tackling bovine TB at its source via better testing, movement controls and new quarantine measures”

Ecologist and Badger Trust member Tom Langton, who is taking the case against the Government, said;

"Senior government officials have operated in a manner that we believe is unlawful when it comes to bovine TB control policy and procedures.

The Government have moved from attempting a precision badger removal policy to an open ended badger eradication approach that has no scientific validity and that independent experts believe could easily do more harm than good.

Further, no serious efforts have been made to consider the ecological impact of widespread badger removal from the countryside, particularly in relation to the impact of predator changes on sensitive wildlife habitats and species including rare birds.

This case is an important fight not just for the badger but also for the future of our countryside and the farming industry.

The badger cull policy is failing farmers, tax payers and our precious wildlife and will make the bovine TB epidemic worse. All will continue to suffer unless we can focus the necessary expertise and resources on proven cattle based measures to reduce the spread of bovine TB in the national herd, which may again be heading for destruction”.


The Judicial Review involves two legal challenges.

The first challenge concerns failures by Natural England to carry out the mandatory Habitats Regulations Assessments correctly for the badger cull.

The second challenge relates to the decision by Defra to allow supplementary culling licences after four years of culling have been completed, which wrongly interprets the conclusion of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial.

Supplementary cull figures published as of today