Samantha Cameron has been accused of breaching Government rules designed to curb the spread of dangerous bird flu strains.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife – a successful businesswoman and fashion designer – posted a snap of four roaming hens outside on December 31.
But her followers on social media soon accused her of breaking rules, citing Government rules introduced on December 14 stipulating that hens must be ‘housed indoors’.
The rules are designed to protect poultry and other birds within Britain from a number of highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza (bird flu) which are circulating in the UK and Europe.
Samantha Cameron (pictured) has been accused of breaching Government rules designed to curb the spread of dangerous bird flu strains
These have led to hundreds of thousands of turkeys, ducks and hens being culled in the UK and Europe in recent months.
Mrs Cameron uploaded the controversial photo – which shows four hens clucking about outside – onto Instagram on New Year’s Eve.
The 49-year-old, who owns the clothing line Cefinn, captioned the post: ‘Frosty sunrise’.
But she received a similarly frosty reception from followers such as Tim Kennett, who commented: ‘Lovely picture but I think your chickens should not be out given Defra’s housing order? £AvianInfluenza’
Christine Reasbeck added: ‘Beautiful, but need to follow the government guidelines for those beautiful hens.’
Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife – a successful businesswoman and fashion designer – posted a snap of four roaming hens outside on December 31 (pictured)
A third woman, Lucy, said : ‘Those who keep birds are now obliged to keep them in doors or netted to stop the spread of Avian flu in the UK.
‘It’s really important that everyone plays their part.’
Lesley Robinson asked: ‘Shouldn’t those birds be under cover?’
Other people also questioned Mrs Cameron, saying ‘it’s illegal to keep birds outdoor now’ and ‘hens need to be in quarantine too!’
Francine Raymond, of the Henkeepers’ Association, said: ‘Assuming this photo was taken after December 14, it looks as though, in these busy times, Mrs Cameron missed Defra’s edict that all poultry and captive birds should be kept undercover away from wild birds and the danger of catching or passing on bird flu.
‘We’d all prefer to let our hens free range around the garden as it’s not much fun for them to be penned in their runs, but if anyone needs advice, we’d suggest the Defra website or our own.
‘We’re happy to help.’
The Cameron’s have a £1.5million family home in the hamlet of Dean in the Cotswolds, West Oxfordshire, where the picture is thought to have been taken.
The Cameron’s have a £1.5million family home (pictured) in the hamlet of Dean in the Cotswolds, West Oxfordshire, where the picture is thought to have been taken
They moved in almost 20 years ago and since then have been renovating the pad, gaining planning permission for a two-storey extension, a single-storey extension, a boot room and a garage block.
Mr Cameron also has a £25,000 hut in the garden for writing in and he’s splashing out on a £50,000 swimming pool.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) didn’t comment on Mrs Cameron’s specific case but directed us to its guidance, which says: ‘An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England effective from 5pm on November 11 with additional housing measures in force from December 14.
But her followers on social media soon accused her of breaking rules, citing Government rules introduced on December 14 stipulating that hens must be ‘housed indoors’
‘The AIPZ means all bird keepers in England (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions including from the 14 December 2020 keeping their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances.’
At the time of the announcement, the chief vets of England, Scotland and Wales backed Defra’s new legal requirements for all birdkeepers to bring their flocks indoors.
In a joint statement the three chief vets said: ‘We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.
‘We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.’
The general secretary of the Poultry Club of Great Britain Kate Dickens added: ‘The Poultry Club of Great Britain works closely with the authorities including DEFRA to safeguard the national poultry flock and minimise risks to human health.
‘Whilst we cannot comment specifically on individual situations, we have been extremely proactive in sharing the information relating to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) that was declared from 5pm on 11 November 2020 with additional housing measures brought into force from 14 December 2020.
‘This means that all bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions including, from the 14 December 2020, keeping their birds indoors, except in very specific circumstances detailed on Gov.UK.’
The British Veterinary Poultry Association secretariat Sharon Wilson added: ‘All keepers are advised to read and follow government requirements, available online at Avian influenza (bird flu) – GOV.UK, and also to promptly report any suspicion of avian influenza in their birds.’
Mrs Cameron has been approached for comment.