George Eustice defends decision to euthanise Geronimo the alpaca

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Geronimo the alpaca (PA) (PA Wire)
Geronimo the alpaca (PA) (PA Wire)

George Eustice has defended the decision to euthanise Geronimo the alpaca, saying there was a danger of a “false negative” emerging if vets continued to test the animal for bovine tuberculosis.

The Environment Secretary said although difficult, “we do have to maintain consistency in our fight against TB.”

He confirmed that a post mortem found TB-like lesions in the animal’s liver and the lymph but not in the lungs.

“These cases are always difficult. I had looked at the Geronimo case three years ago, and a couple of other times since,” Mr Eustice told LBC radio.

“But the truth is he had tested positive for Bovine TB using a test called the Emperplex test, which very rarely has false positives.”

A High Court ruled for Geronimo to be destroyed after twice testing positive for the disease.

However, owner Helen Macdonald believed the results were returning false positives.

Ms Macdonald, who imported the pet from New Zealand, was refused permission to have him tested a third time.

“At that point the danger of just relentlessly testing is you will at some point get what is called a false negative,” Mr Eustice added.

The politician also shared his own family’s experience with the “terrible” disease, saying that his father had been “very distraught” to have to slaughter one of his show cows.

Geronimo was killed by vets on August 31 after police removed him from Ms Macdonald’s Gloucestershire farm in Wickwar.

Ms Macdonald has accused the government of putting up a “wall of silence” over her demands to know where, when and how he was culled.

She claimed the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had not supplied information of his last hours, according to the BBC.

“Defra know very well that the information they are refusing to provide will not support their claim that there was any suspicion of bovine TB in Geronimo,” she told the broadcaster.

“That is why they refuse to provide this information and hide behind their wall of silence.”

The owner had campaigned against the decision to euthanise and launched a four-year legal battle to save Geronimo.

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