THE JUDICIAL REVIEW DECISION IS IN!
The Federation of British Herpetologists (FBH) have lost their Judicial Review against Arun District Council (ADC) in relation to the cancellation of the Portsmouth Reptile & Amphibian Society’s Breeders’ Meeting which was due to be held at Fontwell Park Racecourse (FPR) on the 27th of October 2013.
The Judicial Review (JR) did not fail on grounds of interpretation of Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951, as the Right Honourable Mrs Justice McGowan declined to give any guidance on this issue. The JR was dismissed on the grounds that FPR cancelled the event and not ADC as claimed by the FBH.
The damning piece of evidence accepted by the judge is contained in paragraph 25 of the judgment:
“Most significantly is the uncontradicted evidence of Simon Williams, the Executive Director of FPR, in his witness statement of 6 August 2014. He says in terms at paragraph 8,”
“Staff at Fontwell Park Racecourse took the decision on behalf of the racecourse to cancel the event after taking into account advice from the Council.”
The Judge appears to have attached significant importance to this statement and seems to have been unaware that Mr Williams was not the Chief Executive at the time, indeed he was not even employed by FPR until near a year after the events of October 2013.
It should be borne in mind that the events manager for FPR at the time stated that ADC not FDR cancelled the event. It is also worth pointing out the only written documentation cancelling the event is from ADC.
The Animal Protection Agency (APA) were granted Intervener status in January 2015 and ADC solely relied on their evidence before cancelling the event. Initially ADC emphatically denied they had received any documentation or had any dialogue with the APA, but when the FBH were granted permission for the Judicial Review on the 4th of June 2014, an order for disclosure of documents was made by the Court. This revealed a substantial amount of documentation and cordial correspondence between the APA and ADC relating to the cancellation of the event.
To receive no ruling or meaningful guidance on Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act is extremely disappointing, although the comments contained in paragraph 28 of the judgment are useful in the context of the Defra Review of Local Authority Animal Licensing announced on the 13th July 2015.
The FBH is extremely disappointed to have lost the case, especially in such unfortunate circumstances, but an appeal is currently being considered.
It is the policy of the FBH to be open and transparent and as such the judgment from The Right Honourable Mrs Justice McGowan has been published on the FBH website http://www.fbh.org.uk along with the FBH skeleton argument and supporting witness statements. The FBH would very much like to see Arun District Council and the Animal Protection Agency do likewise and place their documents in the public domain.
Chairman Federation of British Herpetologists, 31st July 2015