Chairman Speaks Out As Abattoir Is Cleared Of Cruelty


Chairman speaks out as abattoir is cleared of cruelty

by Graham Fraser, Hamilton Advertiser

THE CHAIRMAN of a Lanarkshire abattoir this week defended his business after it was cleared of cruelty charges. James Alexander (68), chairman of the Wishaw Abattoir Ltd, made his comments after the company and two of their employees were acquitted at Hamilton Sheriff Court. He said: “All the charges were dropped and the sheriff found there was no case to answer. "This has all happened because members of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) have made mistakes.

“Some of them don’t know the reality and the practicalities of working in an abattoir."

“We constantly work with the MHS. We cannot do our work unless they are there so we are trying to co-operate with them.”

The Meat Hygiene Service act as inspectors in abattoirs. Complaints from them led to the sheriff court case against the Wishaw firm. Mr Alexander continued: “These were serious charges. Men in our employment were accused of being cruel to animals."

"We do a very difficult job and we do it to the best of our ability. The staff here are all experienced.”

James Gibson (52), of Hogan Way, Motherwell, had been accused of cutting the heads off lambs while they were still alive at the Caledonian Road abattoir. It was alleged that Gibson did not abide by strict abattoir guidelines in relation to the slaughtering of lambs. On May 18 last year, it was claimed, Gibson removed the heads of the lambs before the prescribed time. The charge stated that he caused avoidable excitement, pain or suffering to the animals.

His colleague and co-accused William McGuigan (49), of Kirk Road, Wishaw, was alleged to have stunned a cow and left it on the floor for a considerable time before the bleeding process – allowing the animal to regain consciousness and causing it avoidable suffering. The crime was alleged to have taken place on May 25 last year, a week after Gibson’s alleged cruel acts. Another charge alleged that McGuigan failed to ensure the animal was tunned before slaughter. He also denied all charges against him. Wishaw Abattoir Ltd, which processes around 560 livestock every week, were also charged with two cases of mistreatment as Gibson and McGuigan
were in the employment of the company at the time. Gibson has since left his employment at the firm.
At Hamilton Sheriff Court, Sheriff Alasdair Oag found the abattoir not guilty of both charges.

Gibson’s solicitor then submitted to the court at a subsequent hearing on July 3 that his client had no case to answer. Sheriff Oag sustained the submission before clearing Gibson. The procurator fiscal then decided to drop the remaining two charges against McGuigan. McGuigan, who still works at the firm, now needs to re-apply for his licence to kill animals.

The Meat Hygiene Service is part of the Food Standards Agency. A spokesperson for the authority declined to comment yesterday.

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