Two Derbyshire MPs have accidentally shared confidential information about the proposed badger cull in response to constituents’ questions.
It is understood Conservative MPs Pauline Latham and Heather Wheeler, who backed the move, sent constituents an image of the culling area ’in error’ as part of a slide show used to explain the impact of bovine TB (bTB) on farm animals.
The county was granted a Natural England cull licence for 2020 to help tackle bTB in livestock earlier this month.
Pressure group Derbyshire Against the Cull told Farmers Guardian the information was passed to them by constituents opposed to the cull.
"The responses from the MPs included an APHA slide show, which ended with the ’confidential and sensitive’ zone map as an attachment, by way of trying to prove their point," a spokesperson said.
"Cull zone boundaries are never released and three years of hard work has gone into working out where the Derbyshire cull would happen.
"To have our estimations confirmed is very useful and time saving in our anti-cull effort."
Ms Latham said it was ’down to human error’ and ’should not have been sent out’.
Ms Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire, added a number of constituents had been in touch regarding the badger culling and she felt anxious to let everyone know the details and reasoning around this programme.
“I was sent a set of slides by people applying for the cull license and advised that these could be shared,” she said.
“I have to be honest and say I did not notice slide 16 had confidential on it before I sent it out.
“However, the information on it about the vaccine areas and the cull area is in the public domain and has been for many months.
“Bovine bTB is a devastating disease which we are working hard to eliminate and I am in support of funding towards a vaccine which will end the need for culling.
“In the absence of a vaccine which would eradicate Bovine bTB I am in favour of the cull as the livelihoods of so many farmers in my constituency are dependent on them having healthy herds of cattle.”
Defra said it did not comment on leaked documents.