Prince Charles 'black spider' letters: Heir to the throne described opponents to badger cull as 'intellectually dishonest'

Memos show the Prince has long been in favour of the controversial process

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People opposing a cull of badgers to prevent the spread of tuberculosis in cattle were described by Charles as “intellectually dishonest” in a letter revealing that he has long been in favour of the controversial process.

In a letter to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005, the Prince criticised what he described as the “badger lobby” for objecting to the killing of badgers while disregarding the slaughter of cattle which contract the disease.

Warning that the rising number of cases of TB in cattle was the most pressing and urgent problem facing the agricultural sector, he urged Mr Blair to “look again” at introducing a cull of badgers. Trial culls were eventually launched in Gloucester and Somerset by the Coalition Government in 2013 but were not expanded after being deemed ineffective and inhumane.

“I do urge you to look again at introducing a proper cull of badgers where it is necessary,” the Prince wrote. “I for one cannot understand how the ‘badger lobby’ seem not to mind at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of an overpopulation of badgers – to me, this is intellectually dishonest.”

To reinforce his point, Charles also pointed to a study in Ireland which he said proved that badger culling was effective in ridding cattle of TB. Mr Blair replied that he could “personally see the case for culling badgers” and that his Government was in the process of working on “the case for action”.

 

The intervention by the Prince, who is known to be a keen environmentalist, was one of a series of attempts he made to lobby Mr Blair on agricultural and rural issues. In a letter in 2004, he said more should do more to encourage the public to buy beef from British farmers.

“I know that European Rules preclude the Government from running a campaign to promote, solely, British produce but for all that, it would be splendid if the Government could find innovative ways to give the necessary lead,” he wrote.

In the same note, he urged the Prime Minister to put “pressure” on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reduce the bureaucratic burdens farmers faced. “Vigilance is essential to help officials resist returning to type!” he joked.

In his reply, Mr Blair said he and the Prince were “at one” on the importance of reducing farming bureaucracy and that Defra needed to “do more” on the issue.

The Prince also suggested his own preferred candidate for the position of an independent arbitrator to deal with complaints from farmers about the behaviour of big supermarkets. The person’s name was redacted before the letters were published. “It might be worth considering (redacted) for this role,” he wrote. “(Redacted) might have the time to do it and I would think (redacted) would have all the necessary skills for the job.”

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