The European Court of Justice said today (Wednesday) that the British government was in its rights in seizing and destroying a consignment of cattle heads shipped from Ireland into Northern Ireland in 1998, even though a ban on such shipments proposed by the European Commission was not in force at the time. Following seizure of the heads the importer, Eurostock, appealed to the High Court which upheld its claim but the case was subsequently referred to the ECJ on an appeal. The ECJ said the UK’s import ban was justified in light of the risks from BSE.

 By Alan Osborn, correspondent