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Badgers: Ex-Queen guitarist launches legal action against badger cull

Brian May, a former guitarist with the band Queen, has announced that his organisation 'Save Me' will fund a legal challenge against the Government's badger cull policy, reports the BBC.

The Government is conducting a national cull of the woodland animals after farmers raised fears that they were responsible for the spread of bovine TB, and a resulting large and rising loss in cattle numbers.

The cull is being administered by government agency Natural England, which is conducting trials in Gloucestershire and Somerset to test the methods of killing for humaneness and to ensure the efficacy of the scheme.

It is estimated that the cost of bovine TB to the UK economy is around £100m per annum, with around 26,000 cattle killed due to outbreaks of the disease in 2011 alone.

Culling badgers is controversial because there is some debate as to whether a cull is likely to result in a containment of the spread of bovine TB, and because the cull is set to cost millions of pounds to run and police.

The initial trial cull which ran during the summer resulted in Natural England granting extensions for farmers to continue culling badgers, because there were insufficient numbers killed during the original cull period.

This extension caused significant upset, not least because The Guardian later revealed that Natural England's decision to extend the cull was made contrary to the opinion of its top scientific advisor.

Now former Queen lead guitarist Brian May has announced that his organisation 'Save Me', intends to file for an urgent judicial review of the decision by Natural England to extend the length of the cull.

John Cooper QC is the lawyer representing Save Me.

"From the material I have seen already, it is clear that appropriate procedures have not been taken in relation to this action, which will inevitably lead to the destruction of more wildlife if the Government remains unchallenged," he said.