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CPS statement on the case of Anne the Elephant


CPS takes on the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts over mistreatment of circus elephant

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today agreed to take on the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts in relation to the mistreatment of their circus elephant, Anne.

The prosecution was originally brought as a private prosecution by Animal Defenders International (ADI), a worldwide animal welfare organisation which carried out an investigation into Anne's welfare at the Roberts' circus winter base in Polebrook, Northamptonshre, during the period of 21 January to 15 February 2011.

Earlier this month, the CPS was approached by the legal representatives in the case with a view to the CPS taking over the prosecution. Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has now agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts'.

Mr and Mrs Roberts are jointly charged with the following offences:

  1. Causing the elephant to suffer unnecessarily by requiring the elephant to be chained to the ground at all times, contrary to section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006
  2. Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent their employee from causing unnecessary suffering to the elephant by repeatedly beating it, contrary to section 4(2) of the same Act
  3. Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the elephant were met to the extent required by good practice, contrary to section 9 of the same Act.

The private prosecution was commenced by ADI on 18 July 2011 at Northampton Magistrates Court. Now that the CPS is prosecuting the case, the adjourned first appearance will take place at Corby Magistrates Court on 16 November 2011. At that hearing, the court is likely to give directions in preparation for the trial.

Anne is a 58-year-old female elephant brought from Sri Lanka to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in the 1950s. Anne was subsequently transferred to Longleat Safari Park with the owners consent. These defendants have the right to a fair trial. It is important that nothing should be reported that could prejudice their trial.