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Animal welfare chief quits after piglets were killed with a hammer

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NEWS AND VIEWS: The pig farmer who set Scottish national standards of welfare and who owns a pig farm has been exposed as an alleged, vicarious animal abuser because an employee or employees of his were shown killing piglets and pigs with a hammer in great cruelty. The man concerned is Philip Sleigh. He may well, and should, be prosecuted for criminal behaviour. In previous news media articles he has been praised and commended. Ironic seeing as he was in truth, a sham, a cruel man apparently disregarding animal welfare.

Philip Sleigh a pig farmer with a ruined reputation

Philip Sleigh a pig farmer with a ruined reputation. Alan Richardson

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Philip Sleigh helped to draw up welfare standards as the chairman of the pigs standard setting committee of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). This is a public body to which he had been appointed as a director by the Scottish government. Undercover footage was filmed which showed a worker at P&G Sleigh Pig Unit in Aberdeenshire hammering pigs to death and causing severe injuries including organs protruding from their bodies. The pigs were shown to be conscious after hammer blows to the head while they were gasping for breath and wriggling.

When they had been informed that they had suffered horrendous wounds (which apparently was unnecessary because it must have been obvious) they failed to promptly treat the pigs medically. Andrew Knight, professor of animal welfare and ethics at the University of Winchester said that the footage showed some of the most disturbing abuse of animals that he had seen.

He confirmed that the animals had suffered tremendously. The National Pig Association rather meekly said (in underplaying the situation in my view): “The footage does depict inadequacies with regard to the method of euthanasia used which is unacceptable”. Comment: to refer to ‘euthanasia’ under the circumstances is mind blowingly ridiculous. This was not an attempt at euthanasia but a blatant attempt to kill in the most brutal manner with a complete disregard for animal welfare.

Sleigh’s farm has been removed from the QMS quality assurance scheme for non-compliance. Mike Flynn of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that he will be submitting a report to the procurator fiscal based on the information received concerning breaches of animal welfare law at Sleigh’s farm. Tesco has delisted Sleigh’s farm and Lidl has suspended the farm from its supply chain with immediate effect pending a full and thorough investigation by QMS.