'I am seriously fed up,' says accused farmer – as are the wallabies
Peter Boddy insists all meat that left his farm was fit to eat
The albino wallabies shivering in the snow were looking about as happy as their owner Peter Boddy.
As the marsupials braved the heavy fall on the steep hills overlooking Calderdale, West Yorkshire, Mr Boddy was by contrast feeling the heat from the television crews and journalists who had spent most of the previous night and the following morning encamped on the edge of his land.
"I am seriously fed-up. This is totally wrong and I will be going to see my solicitor this morning. There has been Sky News and everybody here. I have done nothing wrong," said Mr Boddy – a well-known local character who bears more than a passing physical resemblance to the character Greengrass from ITV period soap Heartbeat. He has declined all other interviews but told the Halifax Courier that all the meat that left his premises was passed fit for human consumption.
By the afternoon the intervention of the local constabulary and the deteriorating weather conditions meant the three wallabies (two albinos and one brown) were left in peace alongside three chilly ponies, a fibreglass gorilla and an ornamental elephant outside the stone farmstead and adjoining abattoir.
It is alleged that horse meat was supplied to Farmbox Meats Ltd, in Aberystwyth, from Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse Todmorden. Officers from the Food Standards Agency investigating the presence of equine flesh in kebabs and burgers raided the two premises on Tuesday night, seizing paperwork and customer lists and suspending operations at both plants.
The sudden focusing of the horse- meat scandal on the narrow West Yorkshire valley, which experienced a series of devastating floods last year, has left local people shocked.
Todmorden, a former mill town which once boasted the world's largest weaving shed, has in recent years enjoyed a more esoteric association with UFO sightings and the alternative lifestyles of its neighbours down the Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge.
Mr Boddy's mini-zoo – which is not open to the public – has become something of a novelty attraction to passers-by on the Pennine hillside.
Alongside his wallabies, he has provided a home to two unwanted muntjac deer, 10 ostriches and 19 northern elk as well as buffalo, bison, meerkats and giant rabbits said to be half the size of sheep.
He built up his collection through his company Live Animal Capture, which works with zoos and vets to recapture problem deer and other animals by humanely sedating them.
A local sustainable food project Incredible Edible – in which local people and schools grow their own produce – has been copied across the UK, helping the town build a reputation for good eating.
The local Conservative Calder Valley MP, Craig Whittaker, has asked the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, for more information on the investigation surrounding the Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse – one of only five premises in the UK licenced to process horses. He wants to know what arrangements are in place for tracking horse meat from farm to plate. "These are allegations at this stage. We do not know until the investigation is over if any wrongdoing has taken place," he said.
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