A PROTEST group has praised a ferry company for refusing passage of sheep destined for a slaughterhouse through Harwich International Port.

Kent Action Against Live Exports received a tip-off sheep were due to be shipped out of Harwich by Stena Line to the Hook of Holland.

Ian Birchall, chairman, said a whistle-blower rang the group to tell them live sheep were due to be shipped out on lorries at 11pm, Friday August 19.

He said: “We got our operation going and within four hours of finding out, Stena had phoned us to say they had stopped the two vehicles that were due to go that night.

“It had also cancelled another for the following night and several that had booked over the next week.

“We think Stena were misled.

“The company had told Stena the sheep were for further fattening and Stena did not realise this meant slaughter after a short stay waiting for the Eid festival.”

It is believed the animals were to be distributed for ritual slaughter dur - ing the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.

Two days of Eid accounts for the slaughter of more than 100 million animals.

Mr Birchall said: “This is the most horrendous time for these animals.

“Not only are they set for slaughter, but they are travelling in cramped, hot, transport sometimes as far as Turkey.

“We would like to praise Stena Line for making this decision.

“They were brilliant – they listened to what we had to say, they said they’d look into it and called us back very quickly.”

A spokesman for Stena Line said: “We would like to confirm that the booking in question and related bookings have been refused passage as our policy is not to carry any animal destined for slaughter.”