Environment Secretary Owen Paterson faces squatting threat over badger cull

Radical animal rights activists plan to squat at Owen Paterson’s house in southern France

A A A

Animal-rights activists are threatening to squat at the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s second home in southern France as opposition to the imminent badger cull becomes increasingly personal and vitriolic.

The cull, which can commence from 1 June, has provoked one of the biggest mobilisations of radical animal-rights activists in recent times. Sources at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told The Independent that Mr Paterson was aware of the threat to his property in southern France.

Government lawyers are understood to have ordered activists in the UK to remove the address of the holiday home from their websites.

The threat comes from a group called Squat the Cull, which has also vowed to set up protest camps on farms within the cull zone in Somerset and Gloucestershire. This followed reports that Mr Paterson is drawing up plans to create 40 more cull zones.

A spokesman for Squat the Cull said: “A group of French hunt sabs and anarchists are planning to squat Paterson’s home in the South of France… as the start of the cull looms we are getting angrier and planning as much as we can for the fight ahead.”

Mr Paterson spoke about his French holiday home in an interview with Country Life magazine in March.

Last year, Defra secured a High Court injunction ordering protesters from the umbrella group Stop the Cull to cease publicising the addresses of ministers and officials. Government lawyers contacted the group again when details of Mr Paterson’s second home emerged online in March.

Squat the Cull, which is a separate organisation, said it had not been contacted by Defra.

Licensed marksmen can begin shooting badgers in two West Country cull zones from this weekend. They must kill 70 per cent in each area to fulfil the licence’s terms – more than 2,000 in Somerset and nearly 3,000 in Gloucestershire. The cull must be completed in six weeks and take place before 31 January, though activists expect shooting to begin within the next month.

The cull is aimed at stemming the spread of bovine tuberculosis, which was responsible for the slaughter of 30,000 cattle in the UK last year. A coalition of animal-welfare groups, including the RSPCA, the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB, favour vaccinating badgers to prevent the spread of the disease.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific