Shocking pictures of animal cruelty have emerged from a halal slaughterhouse near Burnley, which is now being investigated by a government agency.
Secret footage shot inside the Malik Food Group slaughterhouse in Dunnockshaw, formerly known as Riley Brothers, shows sheep having their throats hacked at and animals being thrown. This has prompted an urgent government investigation into cruelty and a slaughterman's licence being withdrawn.
In its latest investigation, leading animal protection organisation Animal Aid placed hidden cameras inside the slaughter area where sheep were filmed routinely having their throats repeatedly cut, as many as seven times, in contravention of the law, as a result of the slaughterman failing to maintain a surgically sharp knife.
Animals flailed and fitted, having been systematically moved unlawfully before they had enough time to lose consciousness. A slaughterman warned his colleagues when the vet was approaching on multiple occasions.
On three occasions a stockman was caught on camera deliberately picking sheep up by their fleeces and physically throwing the animals, in addition to roughly handling others. While deliberately inflicting cruelty on one animal, the stockman shouts: "See ya! F**k you."
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which regulates animal welfare in slaughterhouses has confirmed there have been "serious non-compliances with animal welfare legislation" during its initial review of 20 minutes of the footage.
In response, the Agency has launched an urgent investigation, withdrawn the licence of one slaughterman and is understood to be considering bringing criminal proceedings. In October 2016, the High Court of England and Wales also upheld a conviction of one of the slaughterhouse directors for a separate incident of animal cruelty.
A spokesman for the FSA said: "On March 30th we received notice from Animal Aid that they had undercover CCTV footage taken in a FSA approved slaughterhouse which they alleged show animal welfare breaches. Almost 70 hours of footage was received and has been reviewed by our veterinary and legal investigators.
"Animal welfare is a high priority for the FSA and we take all alleged breaches extremely seriously. Based on our findings we have taken immediate enforcement action against both the business operator and individual plant staff, including the issue of Welfare Enforcement Notices and revocation of slaughterman certificates of competence.
"Our investigations into this establishment continue but to say more at this stage could be prejudicial to any future potential criminal proceedings."
The slaughterhouse traded as Riley Brothers until February 2016, when the business went into administration.
In July 2016, Junaid Malik formed a partnership with Stephen Riley, re-establishing the abattoir as Malik Food Group.