Ministers red-faced as Ruskell prompts P&O to "cease co-operating" on transport of live animals for slaughter

Scottish Ministers have been left red-faced after Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell prompted ferry company P&O to "cease co-operating" with the Scottish Government to prevent the transport of live animals to Ireland for onward travel to Europe for slaughter.

The announcement was made following an investigation aired by BBC Scotland’s Disclosure that exposed the shocking suffering of baby calves being transported from Scotland to the continent via Northern Ireland.

It follows polling carried out by the Scottish Greens over the summer showing that three out of four Scots want Scottish Ministers to reverse their position of supporting live animal exports.

Last year 5,000 young calves were sent from Scotland to Europe in journeys lasting up to 6 days. The Scottish Government only published official figures in March this year, after the Scottish Greens lodged Written Parliamentary Questions on the subject. 

Yesterday Mark Ruskell wrote to P&O pointing out that their policy of only shipping breeding livestock, not animals intended for fattening or slaughter, was being breached. Today P&O have contacted Mr Ruskell to confirm that they will "cease co-operating with the Scottish Government to transport across the Irish Sea young calves destined for continental Europe with immediate effect."

Scottish Greens food and farming spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said:

“The firm line being taken by P&O after I contacted them shows that a private ferry operator has more backbone than the SNP Government. Live animal exports is an issue the public care deeply about, and Nicola Sturgeon's ministers are complicit in animal cruelty.

"I welcome the update from P&O and the pressure will continue to mount on the Scottish Government whose support for live animal exports is tarnishing Scotland's reputation for good food and animal welfare. The Scottish Government must now fully back Westminster legislation to deliver a UK wide ban on live exports.

“The Scottish Government have known about this link to North African slaughter houses since back in March, when Compassion in World Farming wrote to the First Minister to highlight the issues raised in the programme. It’s time for the Government to admit that the game is over on this – live exports will be effectively banned whether they like it or not.”