Bernard Matthews: Pair should have been jailed

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Turkey giant Bernard Matthews has today hit back at claims made in court about the company's working practices and said two workers secretly filmed beating birds should have been jailed.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Turkey giant Bernard Matthews has today hit back at claims made in court about the company's working practices and said two workers secretly filmed beating birds should have been jailed.

In an unprecedented move, the company has used a full page advert in today's EDP to stress it will not tolerate cruelty to any of its turkeys.

The company dismisses courtroom claims that the abuse revealed the kind of factory farming "working practices that members of the public would prefer not to see".


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Last week turkey catchers Daniel Palmer, 27, and Neil Allen, 30, both from Dereham, were ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service after footage showed them ill treating birds at the firm's Haveringland plant.

One vet had told the court that the abuse, which included using poles to round up the turkeys like baseball bats to beat them, was the "most hideous and blatant" he had seen in 25-years.

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Today's advert takes issue with the claims made in court by the pair's defence solicitor Simon Nicholls, who told magistrates that they had endured "appalling conditions" and were influenced by its culture and peer pressure.

"Bernard Matthews Limited feels very strongly that the community sentence imposed was derisory and, given the circumstances, feels a custodial sentence was far more appropriate," the advert said.

"As many readers will know, we are a major employer in the region and the success of our business is absolutely dependent upon ensuring that we maintain high standards of animal welfare. These standards are regularly assessed by third parties, including vets.

"Most importantly, and in support of all our agricultural staff and employees across East Anglia, we completely refute the allegations made."

A company spokesman said the firm wanted to set the record straight after being denied the chance to speak out in court.

"We felt the whole story was completely one-sided and left a completely false impression of the company's operations and the professionalism of its staff."

See advert on page 22.

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