On 24th April 2023, Derek Whittall, the farmer featured in the Animal Justice Project’s exposé on Oaklands Livestock Centre in Shropshire, UK, was convicted at Telford Magistrates Court of ear tag swapping and animal welfare offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

According to Animal Justice Project, their footage at Oaklands, as well as a nearby abattoir, showed Whittall collecting calves from dairy farms and markets across the North East of England and taking them back to his farm before sending them to the abattoir. It appears that Whittall has already been to prison for sending “ineligible” calves to slaughter under the now-defunct “Calf Processing Scheme”, but he did not get a custodial sentence this time around, despite being found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and The Cattle Identification Regulations 2007. 

However, he has been banned from keeping cows for five years, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay prosecution costs amounting to £11,855.34 within 12 months. Oaklands Livestock Centre also ceased trading following the exposé.

In a press release, Claire Palmer from the Animal Justice Project said, “This prosecution has taken months of painstaking work and we are delighted to finally be able to let you know about it. Having witnessed first-hand the abhorrent abuse of tiny calves just a few days old at Oaklands, we knew we couldn’t let Whittall get away with it. Today we can tell you that our footage not only captured defenseless calves being treated like trash – thrown down trailer and truck ramps; lifted by their tails; kicked in the head; hurled across a pen; kneed in the side; punched; hit with sticks; dragged by their ears; slapped; pushed, and having gates rammed onto their legs, but also Whittall swapping ear tags between calves.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.