Geronimo the alpaca did not have TB, owner claims, as chief veterinary officer insists post-mortem showed 'TB-like lesions'

The row over Geronimo the alpaca has escalated as his owner suggested a post-mortem examination revealed he did not have Bovine TB - something the chief veterinary officer disputes.

Geronimo was culled by government officials, following a four-year battle over his TB status, on 31 August.

In a statement, lawyers for the alpaca's owner Helen Macdonald said: "As reviewed by Dr Iain McGill and Dr Bob Broadbent, the preliminary gross post-mortem findings are negative for visible lesions typical of Bovine Tuberculosis.

"For clarity there are no white or cream caseous, enlarged abscesses typical for bTB in alpacas whether in the lungs, bronchial, mediastinal or retropharyngeal lymph nodes."

However, the chief veterinary officer denied these claims and insisted a "number of TB-like lesions were found" and are being further tested.

Dr Christine Middlemiss said: "These tests include the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples which usually takes several months - we would expect to complete the full post-mortem and culture process by the end of the year."

Ms Macdonald has requested the full findings of the post-mortem, as well as fresh and frozen tissue and fluid samples to be preserved for independent testing.

Members of the Justice for Geronimo and Stop Badger Cull campaign held a protest outside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in central London on Wednesday.

Ms Macdonald had campaigned against Geronimo's destruction, claiming the two positive test results were false negatives and called for him to be tested a third time - or allowed to live to aid research into the disease.

The veterinary nurse argued that the Enferplex test was fundamentally flawed and said the alpaca tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin - a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.

She has called for Environment Secretary George Eustice to resign, saying: "We urge the government to act with compassion and cooperation, which to date has been severely lacking, creating deep and unnecessary distress to Geronimo."

Speaking at the protest in Westminster, she said: "Geronimo was a blessing in my life. He touched the world. He was loved and precious to very many people and he lives on.

"I miss him. But I will do him the honour of fighting for him and making sure his legacy lives on for all animals."

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