Anger as vet leader suggests ban on shechita is on the cards

Jewish leaders have hit back at John Blackwell, the president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, after he called for a reform of kosher and halal slaughter practices.

Shimon Cohen, campaign director of Shechita UK, criticised Mr Blackwell for suggesting that an “outright ban” on religious slaughter is on the cards.

Mr Cohen said the suggestion was "an extraordinary dereliction of duty from the BVA” .

Mr Blackwell told The Times: "I don't think an outright ban is a long way off, there is enough of a view that this practice is inhumane and causes suffering at the time of death."

Mr Blackwell said he wanted to discuss the issue with Jewish and Muslim groups and find a compromise that considers the welfare of the animal.

He suggested all animals needed be stunned before being killed.

But Mr Cohen responded by saying: “Of the countless pressing animal welfare issues that we are faced with today, he has chosen to focus on an issue which is not supported by scientific consensus and which affects a tiny minority of animals.”

He added: “The fact is that religious slaughter is at least as humane as the industrialised methods used in conventional mechanical slaughter which include electrocution, gassing, shooting, trapping, drowning and clubbing."

Denmark recently joined the list of countries that have banned shechita.

The British government has repeatedly said it would protect the right to religious slaughter.

Discussing Mr Blackwell's comments on his LBC radio phone-in on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would also work to defend shechita and had entered politics to protect freedom.

Last updated: 5:11pm, March 10 2014