Roger has written to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to challenge its claim that intellectual property regulations justify withholding the results of TB tests carried out on culled badgers from public scrutiny.
DEFRA refuses to carry out routine TB tests on shot badgers, making it more difficult to assess the “effectiveness” of the badger cull. However, while it refuses to respond to calls by MPs and taxpayers to institute routine testing, it will carry out tests at the request of landowners.
Roger tabled a Parliamentary Question to ask for the results of these tests, but was told by George Eustice MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment, that these results are being withheld under regulation 12(5)(c), which protects intellectual property.
Roger wrote to DEFRA to express his concern that this section of the intellectual property regulations, which are supposed to protect the creators of works of art, is being applied to dead badgers. He requested an internal review and a full explanation of the reasoning behind DEFRA’s decision that tests on culled badgers fall under IP protection.
Roger said: “I find it worrying that the results of an extremely unpopular policy, carried out at public expense but without any approval from the taxpayer, are being withheld from the public and from proper public scrutiny. It is a stretch of credibility that landowners can hold intellectual property rights in dead badgers, and I would like DEFRA to justify this decision.”
Roger demanded an explanation from DEFRA on a number of issues, including how the results of post-mortems carried out on animals at taxpayer expense fall under IP regulations. Roger also asked DEFRA to explain why it decided that the public interest in withholding the results outweighed the public interest in disclosure, and reminded Mr Eustice that the same regulations state that a public body will apply a presumption in favour of the disclosure of information.