Geronimo the alpaca may not be put down as owner receives legal lifeline from High Court

  • Watch Katie Rowlett's report here.

The owner of Geronimo the alpaca has said she will do "everything she can" to protect her animal after being given what could potentially be legal lifeline by the High Court.

Protesters formed a human chain around Geronimo's pen after a High Court injunction deadline passed earlier today but now a judge has ruled that Helen Macdonald will be able to give fresh evidence in court to prevent her animal being put down.

Helen has been campaigning to save Geronimo's life for four years but her latest appeal at the High Court was unsuccessful in July.

It meant that the Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had the authority to end Geronimo's life from August 5.

However the High Court granted an injunction for 72-hours meaning that the animal was safe until 4pm on Monday.

After that deadline passed protesters gathered at Helen's farm in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire to further protect the animal.

Protesters gathered at her farm in Wickwar on Monday after the deadline passed.

The High Court has now said that Helen's application for a judicial review has been granted and that a hearing date will be set in due course.

However that doesn't mean that the alpaca will not be slaughtered by DEFRA in the coming days.

"The High Court confirmed at 3pm today that my claim for a judicial review on the basis of material non-disclosure has been accepted and issued," Helen said.

"We will receive a hearing date in due course.

"We requested DEFRA to extend their undertaking not to kill Geronimo until the court had determined my claim however they have only agreed not to seek the warrant today.

"That seems both mean and petty to me, as it means they could turn up tomorrow morning. We have asked the court to issue an injunction as a matter of urgency.

"It is unfortunate as it is both a waste of money and the court's time however we will do whatever we can to protect Geronimo."

Protesters outside Defra's headquarters in London, fighting to save Geronimo. Credit: PA

The case has been ongoing since 2017 when Helen Macdonald first appealed a decision that Geronimo had to be put down after a failed test for Bovine TB.

Her latest appeal was rejected by the High Court last month meaning the Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has the authority to end Geronimo's life.

Geronimo has lived at Helen's farm in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire since 2017.

Upon his arrival in to the UK from New Zealand, Helen had him voluntarily tested for Bovine Tuberculosis following which he returned a positive result.

Helen Macdonald in the bio secure pen with Geronimo. Credit: PA

Helen disputed the result and stated he had been injected with too much tuberculin prior to his departure from New Zealand. Geronimo then failed a second test.

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

Sir Keir Starmer was 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.

  • Labour's Keir Starmer says there can be no exception for Geronimo.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also asked to intervene in the case earlier this month but the government has stood firm on its original decision.

Earlier this month a Defra spokesperson said they sympathised with Ms Macdonald, and described TB as a “terrible disease”.

“It is for this reason that the testing results and options for Geronimo have been very carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its veterinary experts, as well as passing several stages of thorough legal scrutiny,” the spokesperson said.

“Bovine TB causes devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities and that is why we need to do everything we can to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.”