Red Lion Abattoir at Sound Heath, Nantwich

Five people charged in connection with the Red Lion horse abattoir in Nantwich will no longer face prosecution.

The Food Standards Agency is to drop charges of alleged horse passport irregularities at the abattoir in Sound, near Wrenbury.

And lawyers acting on behalf of two of the five, branded the FSA investigation as “over zealous and bungling”.

Kirwans said the case would be formally dropped at a hearing at Chester Crown Court later this week.

An FSA spokesperson told Nantwichnews: “The FSA has a team of experienced prosecution lawyers who review cases independently and apply the Code for Crown Prosecutors when deciding whether a case should be prosecuted.

“We therefore prosecute a select number of cases which meet this strict criteria.

“However, we have an ongoing duty to keep cases under review.

“If it is concluded at any stage of the case that either there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction or that it is no longer in the public interest to prosecute the case, we will take steps to stop the prosecution.”

But leading agricultural lawyer David Kirwan, of Kirwans, criticised the FSA.

In a statement, he said: “The FSA responded to the hysteria of the horse meat scandal with undue haste, perhaps because of political and public pressure.

“They got it wrong in this case with a deeply flawed, unsustainable prosecution in the name of public health. This case had nothing to do with horsemeat ending up on British dinner tables.

“This over zealous and bungling FSA investigation highlights how the food regulatory body has little grasp of legislation or the issues facing the farming industry – yet at times they are gung-ho with enforcement and prosecution.

“The European Union legislation was misused and misinterpreted by the FSA, as we were confident of establishing in court.”

The charges were originally brought in 2013 in connection with administrative procedures relating to six horse passports.

Three people were charged with 12 counts of failing to comply with regulations in relation to the slaughter of horses for food consumption.

Two others were charged with intentionally obstructing someone acting in the execution of the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006, while one defendant was additionally charged with allowing, causing or permitting a horse that had a detention notice served on it to be removed from the premises.

The abattoir was at the centre of national controversy in early 2013 when undercover filming by Hillside Animal Sanctuary showed alleged mistreatment of horses.

The video was screened by Sky News and led to public outcry for the abattoir to be closed down.


  1. Jeannie price says:

    A protest is in the planning,we will be out side this hell hole to get answers.we want those so called men to explaine to us why they enjoyed hurting these poor creatures .Animal rights Human wrongs.

  2. sarah maguire says:

    I see on Kirwan’s Solicitors Website it states David Kirwan is passionate about farming and takes great pride in representing those who find themselves without a voice – trying telling that to the horses. Well I hope he sleeps well at night.

  3. EYG says:

    Well thanks to governments everywhere refusing to enforce the laws when it comes to cruelty, safety, transparency, transport, traceability, every aspect of animals, I refuse to eat them. They want to protect agricultural fat cats and to hell with animal torture or required safety laws. Well they can shove their corrupt “product” up their asses. The Red Lion case is one of the worst things I have ever seen.

  4. jean birkett says:

    People should stop abusing animals- end of. and idiots should stop breeding horses( and dogs) just to make a quick buck when the dog pounds are bursting at the seams and horses are being abused and dumped all over the country. Pure greed and ignorance

  5. Pamela King says:

    The “do gooders” as you call them, message from Mr Ed, want to know that animals are at least being killed humanely, not in the grotesque way that these horses were being treated at this abattoir’ s!

  6. In The Real World says:

    I don’t suppose its in the Public’s Interest to spend yet more taxpayers money when there is obviously no case to answer?? “The FSA responded to the hysteria of the horse meat scandal with undue haste, perhaps because of political and public pressure” I think we all need to accept the idea that horses are food in certain country’s, just like cows, pigs & lambs are on the shelf in most supermarkets here in the UK. Princess Anne all the way!!

    • Maureen Middleton says:

      But the horses deserve to be treated humanely when they are in the abbatoir before they are killed. Horses are intelligent beings who feel pain just like we all do.Some humans are evil and cruel and apparently humans like this were torturing the horses in this abbatoir – not satisfied with killing them they had to frighten themto death and cause them great pain. It makes me sick to think of it and we have to pursue these cruel people and make sure they don’t carry on doing it.

  7. Mr Ed says:

    Nice to see some sense for a change! Countless thousands of unwanted suffering equines in the UK and the largest horse abattoir shut down as the nation deepens into welfare crisis due to over breeding and the current economic climate! Well done do gooders now get your hands in your pockets and go buy all these unwanted horses that have no where to go!

  8. Pamela King says:

    Sickening, that is all I can say. I agree with John who commented earlier, we are fined for minor offences such a driving 35 in a 40 limit, fined for parking 5 minutes over time etc, I could go on and on but this terrible animal cruelty is acceptable and they get off Scot free! Also like John we do not want Halal meat in this country and I object to seeing the shelves of it in the supermarkets, but it does not seem to matter if I am offended as long as the people that want Halal meat are not offended. It seems to be creeping into our fast food chains and our restaurants but I do not want to eat it, so now I do not want to eat out as I know that it could be halal meat. The FSA should be ashamed of themselves for letting this abattoir get away with these offences, it was on film for everyone to see. What are our authorities turning into? What is our country turning into?

  9. Wendy Harrison says:

    WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!

  10. nicola allen says:

    never mind the passport charges, where are the charges for cruelty ? absolute joke !!!! one of the men who faced charges was a guy who worked for the fsa! top job yet leaves and goes to this doss hole, what the hell does that tell you! hope karma gets the lot of them.

  11. John says:

    Seems about par for the course, doesn’t it? There are some “crimes” (mainly associated with motoring) which are pursued in a Rottweiler-like way, yet gross miscarriages of justice go unchallenged. I see now that almost every fast food outlet, most restaurants and many supermarkets discreetly display the Halal logo, and I’m pretty upset that a huge programme of animal cruelty is carried out for the benefit of a small minority, and in the face of majority opposition. I wrote to DEFRA about this, and their response was pathetic. It boiled down to “We need to be sensitive to other faiths”, “The government will not support a ban on Halal”, “European law forbids labelling of religiously-slaughtered meat” and “we are introducing new guidelines for minimum bleed-out times”. What this means is that millions of animals are tortured daily, and put into (it seems) every food outlet just to avoid offence. There is absolutely nothing we can ever do about this; it is a legal fait-accomplis forced on us without consultation, representation or permission. Can someone tell me how, in western democracy, this can possibly be right or fair to both animals and humans? Sorry to go off-topic, but I think it’s the same sort of theme.

  12. Macx says:

    “No longer in the Public Interest” to protect the welfare and treatment of animals !!!!! What! is this a case of “the dust has settled”, the stupid people have forgotten ?
    Documents such as passports exist for a very good reason, and when combined with the overwhelming evidence which supports abuse within the systems of handling Horses at this abattoir, it is my opinion that the Crown Prosecution Service doesn’t represent Public Interest at all ! The Law is really a total ass !!!

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