National Farmers' Union bosses have mounted a High Court challenge to a Government decision not to introduce badger culling in Derbyshire in a bid to control bovine TB.

Lawyers representing the NFU have told a judge that a "direction", made in September 2019, was "irrational" and say the "real reason" for the decision being made was because Prime Minister Boris Johnson took a "personal interest".

They told Mrs Justice Andrews on Wednesday that lobbying by Badger Trust chief executive Dominic Dyer included meeting Mr Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds in Downing Street.

Environment secretary George Eustice denies that the decision was irrational and says the challenge should be dismissed.

Mrs Justice Andrews is analysing arguments at a High Court Skype hearing.

Maya Lester QC, who is leading the NFU legal team, told the judge, in a written case outline, that Mr Johnson was "personally interested in the outcome of this particular licensing decision".

She said: "What is apparent from the contemporaneous documents now disclosed is that the real reason for the direction was that from around August 22 2019, the Prime Minister took a personal interest in the cull licensing decision.

"Mr Dyer had been quoted in a newspaper article as saying he had '... every reason to believe this decision was taken as a direct intervention by the Prime Minister' following his lobbying (which included meeting with the Prime Minister's partner in Downing Street)," she said.

Sir James Eadie QC, who is leading Mr Eustice's legal team, told the judge, in a written case outline: "The decision was plainly not irrational."

He said the contention that "relevant factors" had not been taken into account but "irrelevant factors" had was "unsustainable".

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