An exposé of the English wool industry has revealed horrific animal abuse.
The footage, compiled by vegan charity PETA Asia, shows shearers punching sheep in the face, stamping and standing on their heads and necks, and beating and jabbing the animals in the face with electric clippers. The charity says the footage was taken from 25 farming sheds over 15 days.
Channel 4 showed PETA's footage during a news program. Barrister Alan Bates, who has acted in animal welfare cases for 15 years told the show there could be a case against some of those seen in the recording. He added: "What's shown in this footage clearly goes very much at the upper end of seriousness of anything that I've ever seen. These animals are being very seriously assaulted."
According to PETA: "The video exposé highlights just some of the cruelty the investigator observed at the 25 farming sheds visited by the shearing contractors.
"PETA Asia has filed a 15-page complaint with the RSPCA and asked it to launch an investigation and, if appropriate, file criminal charges against the workers for apparent violations of laws prohibiting cruelty to animals."
PETA Asia Vice President, Jason Baker, added: "Sheep are gentle prey animals who are petrified of even being held down, yet these animals were punched in the face, kicked, and stamped on, and their heads were slammed into the floor by impatient shearers, causing them great distress and injury. PETA Asia is calling on shoppers around the world to reject cruelty to animals - and that means never buying real wool."
Channel 4 showed the footage
'Shocked and saddened'
British Wool has issued a statement in response to the footage saying: "We are shocked and saddened by the behaviour of the (two) contractors filmed secretly.
"As a farmer-owned organisation, British Wool collects and sells the wool on behalf of British farmers. We are passionate and committed to continuously seeking to improve shearing skills and good practice in the UK.
"Every year we train more than a thousand people in all parts of the UK on two-day training courses that are tailored to their existing level of experience and skill.
"It is not within our remit to police the shearing industry: this responsibility lies with the Government and the RSPCA. As announced during the programme, the RSPCA will be making a full investigation into the footage. We will provide them with any support required.
"We would like to point out that the vast majority of the thousands of shearers in the UK operate to the highest standards of animal welfare, which is an integral part of all our shearing courses."