Geronimo: Sir Keir Starmer says there's 'no alternative' to alpaca's slaughter

Side by side picture, sir Keir Starmer and Geronimo the alpaca
Sir Keir Starmer said an exception "cannot be made" in Geronimo's case. Credit: ITV West Country/PA

The leader of the Labour Party has said there is "no alternative" to the slaughter of South Gloucestershire alpaca Geronimo.

Sir Keir Starmer spent the morning in Stroud, a seat the party lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election, urging voters not to break away from Labour.

When questioned on the West Country issue that has been dominating national headlines the leader of the opposition didn't disagree with the Government's approach to the case.

He said: "It's a really sad situation and you can see why emotions are running really high, but farmers around here and across Gloucestershire will be familiar with having to lose their animals because of TB.

"It's always tragic when it happens. I don't think we can make an exception in this case. Of course it's sad - it's sad for farmers as well when they lose their animals but we have to keep TB under control."

When asked if the Government's stance is right, he continued: "I think there's no alternative sadly. I do actually understand why emotions are so high as they would be with farmers as well who on a not irregular basis have to lose animals that are very valuable to them."

Geronimo has been in isolation on a farm in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, since testing positive for Bovine TB on two occasions after arriving in the UK from New Zealand in 2017.

It comes on the same day lawyers representing the alpaca's owner, Helen Macdonald, sent a letter to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) requesting Geronimo be saved - and used for scientific study.

Lawyer Jan Mugerwa said if the Government accepted this latest proposal it would prevent the animal's destruction, but also aid scientific research into bovine TB in alpacas.

The Government acknowledged receipt of the letter but has not commented on the contents.