MP David Heath rapped over badger cull 'censorship'
AN animal protection society has criticised the MP for Somerton and Frome over the badger cull in Somerset.
David Heath, who is also minister of state for DEFRA, has come under fire over the release of a report assessing how humane the cull is.
The pilot cull got under way in Somerset this month to try and prevent the spread of tuberculosis in cattle for which badgers are blamed.
Humane Society International has asked to see a DEFRA document that assessed badger suffering.
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But the society claims that DEFRA refused to supply it for nearly eight months and, when it did, the majority of the 28-page document was blacked out.
It claims that Mr Heath misled a fellow MP who asked why the document had been censored.
Mr Heath told Adrian Sanders MP that releasing the details could adversely affect public safety or damage the environment.
He said non-disclosure of information was allowed under Environmental Information Regulations.
But Gerrard Tracey, of the Information Commissioners Office, ruled on August 6 that Mr Heath's explanation was not valid.
He said that the regulations did not allow for this information to be withheld.
A statement from the society said Mr Heath had "misrepresented information" as he "should have been fully aware of this at the time of his response".
Mr Tracey has ordered DEFRA to provide the information withheld in the document to be released to the society.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We have been granted an extension and are considering whether to appeal the Information Commissioner’s decision.
"The humaneness evaluation criteria, as agreed with the independent panel of experts, will be published along with a full account and assessment of the pilot culls once they have concluded.”