§ Lord Rotherwick
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why there have been no prosecutions of air passengers at Heathrow in the last three years for bringing illegal meat such as "bushmeat" into the United Kingdom; and [HL4030]
Whether they intend to prosecute passengers at airports who smuggle in illegal meats such as "bushmeat"; and [HL4031]
Whether they intend to search more air passengers this year than in previous years for illegal meats such as "bushmeat" and meat from endangered species. [HL4032]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)
A decision to bring a prosecution before the courts is a matter for the enforcement authority. They would take into account a number of factors, including the weight of evidence to prove intent to break the laws in question and the ability to bring the offender before the British courts. These criteria may not be easy to satisfy in the case of air passengers bringing in illegal meat, especially where small quantities are seized.
In 2001, HM Customs and Excise prosecuted three people for offences relating to imports of meat covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) involving "bushmeat". Two were convicted of CITES offences and one was acquitted but convicted under a separate animal health charge.
The level and focus of future controls to address the threat from imported meat will be directed by the risk assessment work which is already under way. We are committed in the light of that risk assessment to strengthen our efforts to tackle the problem of illegally imported meat.