Vets order boycott of livestock flights

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Vets and animal health officers were last night told by their professional association to boycott flights of live animals to the continent.

The Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists said it was concerned for its members on the flights because of "inadequate" health and safety provisions on board.

David Luxton, a spokesman, said vets and animal handlers were expected to fly without the normal safety provisions given to passengers on commercial flights. He said they had been expected to fly without oxygen masks and without life jackets.

"Our members' principle concern is the welfare of the animals and they should not be exposed to unacceptable risks, nor should the animals. We are calling for a suspension of these flights and a withdrawal of the operating licences until the authorities can be satisfied on the safety of the flights," he said.

If the vets and animal health officers honour the proposed boycott, the flights could soon be grounded, according to the institution.

The Chief Constable of Sussex, Paul Whitehouse, who is charged with ensuring that the shipments of animals through Shoreham port continue, acknowledged yesterday that many of his officers who have fought pitched battles with protesters are unhappy with the trade. But Mr Whitehouse said the force had a duty to act even-handedly and uphold the law.

It also emerged yesterday that the port of Brightlingsea in Essex was a possible future location for the trade. Protesters also clashed with police at Milbay Docks, Plymouth.

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