Anti live export demonstrators in Ramsgate told they will face fines if they gather during ‘lockdown’

Live animal exports Image RSPCA

Campaigners against live animal exports have been told they face being fined if they turn out to protest at a shipment due in Ramsgate on Monday (November 16).

Kent Action Against Live Exports (KAALE) have been informed by Kent Police that they may issue the fines under Coronavirus legislation against anybody joining the  protest and evidence gathering at the next sailing of the ‘Joline’ out of Ramsgate.

Campaigner Yvonne Birchall, 75, would face a fine of £10,000 as an organiser. Attendees would face fines of £100-£200. The vigils at the Nethercourt roundabout by the entrance to the port tunnel are usually attended by 20 to 30 people.

Two lorries are due at 5am on Monday for the Joline shipment.

Craig Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet which includes Ramsgate Port, is a protest attendee.

He  said: “This strict interpretation of the latest Coronavirus Regulations, which came into force on November 5, and the very concept of making such peaceful activities illegal, backed up with criminal records and fines, are one of the many reasons I voted against these draconian regulations last week.

“The regular protest would, as ever, be held outside on public highway with attendees undoubtedly more than capable of maintaining sensible social distancing.

“Whilst pure protests are banned under the rules, such regular gatherings against this foul trade have a further purpose of evidence gathering of any wrongdoing by the shippers and hauliers involved in this trade.

“I appreciate this puts Kent Police in an unenviable situation of interpreting and implementing hastily drafted rules and I sympathise with that.

Photo Gerard Bane

“I am in contact with Kent Police and Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner to try to resolve this nonsensical impasse but as things stand there is probably no solution and we can but hope that something closer to normality can return after December 2.

“I would ask campaigners, however reluctant they may be, to sit this one out and I can only apologise for the situation.”

Demonstrations of more than two people are banned during the national lockdown. Government has removed an exemption that previously allowed protests to take place.

Kent Police Divisional Commander for East Kent, Chief Superintendent Nigel Brookes said: “Protests are not exempt from the current Government restrictions and therefore, anyone who attends to protest risks not only their own health, but they will be liable for a £200 fine for breaching the regulations.

“Police remain in contact with organisers who understand that being involved in the holding of a large gathering in the middle of a pandemic while we remain in a national lockdown, will result in a £10,000 fine.

“Kent Police officers continue to work closely with our partner agencies and will engage, explain and encourage people to comply with coronavirus legislation. Where people refuse to listen and comply – and are putting others at risk – we will take robust enforcement action.”

At Kent County Council last month leader Roger Gough appeared to say exports from Ramsgate would end when new ‘Brexit’ regulations come into force on January 1, 2021.

However, county councillor Karen Constantine, who represents Ramsgate, has asked for clarification as it is at odds with information contained in the authority’s EU Transition Preparedness report.

This states: ““Ebbsfleet will be an HMRC Inland Border Facility. It will also be used as a Hub for prioritised freight. Should certain freight (including Scottish fish and day-old chicks) be prioritised, vehicles carrying this freight would be required to meet at Ebbsfleet where they will be issued a unique permit and directed to use the A2/M2 to junction 5, to then join the M20 and use the contraflow to the ports.”

Live animal exports Picture credit: James Shaughnessy.

Cllr Constantine says this appears to show that live animal exports from ports in Kent will in fact continue and has queried whether fish and day old chicks will pass through Ramsgate and whether the export of sheep will continue. She has also asked what welfare checks will be in place, especially if delays occur?

Mr Mackinlay said regulations to stop live exports are not yet in place.

He said: “There will need to be legislative change to finally stop live animal exports, but I hear a ‘time-based’ solution is looking favourite to prevent any international WTO challenge, which, at best, was oblique in any event.

“No legislation is, as yet, in the pipeline but the pronouncements from the despatch box by the Prime Minister on many occasions points to definite change on the cards. Whether this can be brought about by January 1, 2021 remains to be seen; government bandwidth is busy at present and Parliamentary time limited as there is a huge legislative agenda in process to put in place other Brexit related legislation.

“This is a totemic issue for me and I am working with other colleagues, cross party to get this foul and unnecessary trade stopped.”


  1. Many Stop Live Animal Exports campaigners voted to leave the EU because Craig Mackinlay said it would then be easier to prevent it. So why is he shown protesting, we exited the EU last year! I am reminded of the leader of another country who was a vegetarian, teetotaller, non smoker, and animal lover, who went by the name of Adolph Hitler, I wonder what became of him?

  2. Is that the same Craig Mackinlay who consistently votes to punish the poorest in society, protect the richest, votes against green energy & for further pollution? Does he have strong beliefs on this that are totally contrary to how he treats humans & the planet, or is it just another photo op?

  3. Well said Dumpton, This has been going on for years with all the yapping and shouting it has not stopped a bacon rasher let alone a truck full of sheep. TDC tried to stop it once and ended up being taken to court and found to be unlawful. TDC had to pay out millions of pounds of taxpayers money in compensation to the farmers and the truck firms.
    McKinlley likes to show his face now and then in case we forget what he looks like.

    • Another rant from someone calling herself Ann. I am beginning to think that Thanet has more than its fair share of fruit and nutcases!. Personally I am opposed to long distance animal exports especially as they will probably end up being ritually slaughtered without even being stunned first.

  4. So disgusting that this vile so called trade still exists. If anything should be banned due to Covid it’s this. Those trucks are filthy and could easily transport infection to and from wherever they are going. The protesters could easily wear masks and practice social distancing. Ban live exports.

  5. I don’t know why false name Laurence. Thinks my name is not Ann??? I DON’T say I like the idea of animals being transported this way however it is legal and that’s that. I Don’t like narcissism or those who think they are so special and only their opinion matters. If you want to see a nutcase or fruit cake look in the mirror.

    • We’re in the beginning of a second covid wave; far, far bigger than the first.
      We have all had temporary restrictions on our freedoms, for the benefit of society as a whole.
      For the time being, make your protest by emailing your MP.
      Do the wise and sensible thing. Stay at home.

  6. This evil trade is totally unacceptable. It must be stopped.A millionaire dealer reaps the awards.He must be stopped and held accountable.

  7. I am totally against live export. It is inhumane and causes unnecessary suffering. That said our council tried to halt it and they lost!! Who the heck gave them this terrible advice as even I knew it was futile because companies and losses impacted by reversing this were protected under EU rules. The council’s loss meant Thanet’s tax payers had to pick up the bill for a whopping £5 million….. incompetent lot!!! I pray that one day however that cruel live export will stop. And Craig is there for a photo opportunity AGAIN. He doesn’t care about animals or people; he cares too much about himself!

  8. After fining them why not go to schools and fine those not obeying distancing rules. Could make £1000s. Too difficult? No wonder we have such a high covid infection rate.

  9. This has to Stop live export is a touture to the animals yet still going on lets all vote again to put a end live export..

  10. I don’t remember the police doing anything about the anti-lockdown etc. protests in London the other week. Lots of people close together, no masks, when supposedly London was under tier 2 restrictions. Haven’t seen ANY attempt to enforce mask-wearing rules by police either, on public transport or elsewhere. Police at Gravesend station today making no attempt to check people were wearing masks on the trains (and some definitely weren’t) Why are they suddenly picking on this one thing?

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