British sheep smuggled to France for ritual killing

Thousands of British sheep have been secretly ferried to France for a Muslim festival of ritual slaughter tomorrow which contravenes European standards. They have been taken to makeshift sacrificial sites - mainly around Paris - to have their throats slit during celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.

French police are investigating the disappearance of five cargoes of British sheep which have not arrived at their declared destinations. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has discovered that they have been smuggled to sites in France for ritual slaughter tomorrow.

The Agriculture Ministry is preparing to take legal action if the exporters involved fail to prove their sheep have arrived at their declared destinations. A spokesman explained that it is possible exporters have shipped sheep to France for the Eid-el-Kebir festival.

''If they had put down that their sheep were going for ritual slaughter we would have to think very carefully about granting a licence,'' he said. In Britain the law governing religious slaughter is rigorously enforced.

Muslim and Jewish abattoirs are permitted to carry out the practice but it is well-monitored and a veterinary surgeon must attend. The law is similar in France, as there are European Union regulations to adhere to, but under pressure from 4 million Muslims the government grants temporary exemptions for specific sites across the country in an attempt to avoid the slaughter in streets and homes. In previous years, the French have imported British sheep because they are cheap and there is a shortage on French farms.

The most recent shipment of British sheep travelled from Dover to Boulogne on 28 March. There were 24 lorries, containing 8,495 sheep, on board the Sea Road. Exporters have to state a declared destination for the animals but those responsible for five of the lorries have so far failed to account for them. The deadline to satisfy the Ministry of Agriculture expires next week.

An RSPCA undercover team of investigators last week identified British sheep in four Muslim sites around Paris. They estimate that around 800 will be slaughtered at one site alone. As many as 5,000 British sheep could be involved in the practice condemned by the RSPCA as unnecessary and inhumane.

A member of the undercover team told the Independent that he saw up to 500 sheep with British ear tags being marketed specifically for the festival.

To mark the end of Ramadan, families from all over Paris will converge on makeshift sacrificial sites to take part in the slaughter. Sheep will have their throats cut by untrained slaughtermen who have been known to hack through the neck with bread knives.

The slaughter is expected to attract large numbers of French protesters. Among them will be Brigitte Bardot, who said last night she might be forced to emigrate as a result of the practice.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas