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12th Oct 2022

Vegan refused to deal with mice infestation because it was ‘against her ethical beliefs’

Jack Peat

The Essex resident considered the mice her pets

A vegan from Essex says she didn’t deal with her mouse-infested home because taking action would go against her ethical beliefs.

Margaret Manzoni, of Clacton Road, St Osyth in Essex, was fined by the court after she failed to comply with a previous order made in April.

In her defence, she said she considered the mice “her pets” and “said they would not go to her neighbours because she looked after them”.

Manzoni lived in a mid-terrace home and had previously been warned by the authorities, who said while the court “respected her beliefs as an ethical vegan, others saw mice as vermin”.

The court said that the “impact of the infestation on neighbours meant inaction was not appropriate”, according to the authority.

Manzoni admitted at the hearing on October 6 to charges of failing to comply with a notice under the Environmental Protection Act and a notice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act.

She was fined £1,500, with the court awarding the council costs of £2,395 and imposing a victim surcharge of £150.

In setting the fine magistrates took into account Manzoni’s personal situation, and highlighted that clearance work would also need to be paid for.

The court heard that the council’s environmental health team was called in by neighbouring residents who were over-run by mice, causing property damage, due to conditions at Manzoni’s mid-terrace home, the council said.

Council staff made several visits and offered help, before issuing notices “ordering Manzoni to stop feeding birds, to clear the overgrown garden, and call in pest control”, the authority said.

“While some building works were carried out by the council, food and shelter continued to be provided by Manzoni for the mice – leading to an overpowering smell and which forced neighbours to move out,” a spokesman for Tendring District Council said.

“Tendring District Council offered Manzoni alternative accommodation but, she considered the mice her pets, said they would not go to her neighbours because she looked after them, and refused to take action stating it went against her ‘ethical beliefs’.

“This led to the first prosecution, since which despite continued regular visits by the environmental health team nothing has changed; leaving the council no choice but to prosecute again.”

Michael Talbot, Tendring District Council cabinet member for environment, said the prosecution was “a real last resort” but that “despite repeated visits, offers of help, legal notices, and the previous court action, nothing has been done by the property owner”.

He continued: “We respect people’s personal beliefs and how they choose to live in their homes, but when this has a detrimental impact on others then we have no choice but to take the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s quality of life.”

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