Saturday, November 1, 2014

Airport Parrot Farce Is Squawk of the Town

This story, in its entirety, authored by Faith Eckersall, was published November 1, 2014 in the Bournemouth Daily Echo:

ACCORDING to the Border Force agency they do not: “Routinely comment on individual cases,” and therefore won’t explain why British taxpayers must pay though the beak to fund the incarceration at Heathrow Airport of a Bournemouth parrot called Becky. Presumably they believe this will stop Becky’s distraught owners from pursuing them through the courts and newspapers – which love a parrot story above all others – and from asking them even more questions.

That's it. That's the whole story. Well, this story caught our attention. Why was a parrot being held captive at Heathrow Airport by the British government? Was this a case of avian terrorism? Was this parrot a member of an organized gang of parrots ravaging Britain? Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town on the south coast of England directly to the east of the Jurassic Coast. We wondered what kind of parrot got the British government all worked up. So we Googled Airport Parrot. Turns out the airport parrot is a Senegal parrot named Becky.

Several days earlier the Bournemouth Daily Echo published the particulars of the strange case of a Senegal parrot named Becky:

A BOURNEMOUTH couple have appealed to Border Force officials to return their pet parrot Becky, who was seized from them three months ago. Senegal parrot Becky, who has lived with owner Andrew Sutton for almost three decades, has been kept at Heathrow Airport since mid-July. Despite living in the UK for nearly all her life, she is the subject of an ongoing dispute as to whether she has the right documentation to be here. Andrew, 43, said: “I have done nothing wrong and nor has Becky but we are being punished for other people’s mistakes. “It’s heartbreaking. Becky is like a child to me, I have had her since I was a teenager. “They have got to give her back to us.”

The problem arose when Andrew and his partner David de la Mare, 63, moved back to the UK from Turkey, where they had lived and worked for around seven years. Becky’s move to Turkey had been straightforward and, when arranging her return to the UK, the pair paid a specialist animal transportation company £1,000 to complete all the necessary paperwork for them. The couple checked whether they needed a CITES permit for Becky but received a categorical assurance from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency that they did not.  But upon arriving in the UK, Becky was seized by Border Force officials who said she did need one.

A CITES permit, which is inexpensive and easy to obtain, cannot be applied for retrospectively so Andrew and David have had to instruct solicitor Philip Day to help get Becky back. His initial request for Becky to be returned was turned down and they are now appealing this decision. Mr Day said there was “no public interest” in keeping Becky apart from her owner. “This is, at worst, an innocent story of a gentleman who has had a much-loved pet parrot for in excess of 25 years; who went to considerable time, effort and expense to ensure that when he moved to Turkey, his pet Becky could join him there and, when he returned, that the bird could remain with him.” David said: “We are now faced with a situation where we may have to go to court to get Becky back. “It is incredibly stressful, particularly as the Border Force is notoriously difficult to deal with, and we just can’t seem to get any answers from anyone.” And Andrew said: “I’ve put my trust in the system and always thought that if you do things properly you will be okay. “We have been let down through no fault of our own but we just want Becky back.”

A spokesman for Border Force said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases, so cannot comment on this case unfortunately.”

Fucking bureaucrat.

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