A new study which suggests badger culls had no effect on bovine TB rates in England is “scientifically flawed”, the UK government has concluded.

The research was conducted by wildlife campaigners and was published last week in the scientific journal Veterinary Record.

Analysis by UK government scientists found that the data used in the new study was “manipulated” and therefore “its conclusions are wrong”.

“This paper has been produced to fit a clear campaign agenda and manipulates data in a way that makes it impossible to see the actual effects of badger culling on reducing TB rates,” a government spokesperson said.

We do not believe the scientific methodology used is credible

The UK’s chief vet, Dr Christine Middlemiss, has written to the Veterinary Record to express her concerns about the study.

“We do not believe the scientific methodology used is credible as the analysis has been carried out in an unusual manner that masks the effect of culling by incorrectly grouping data,” Dr Middlemiss said.

Previous analysis by UK government scientists found a “clear reduction” in TB breakdowns in badger cull areas from the second year of wildlife intervention onwards, when compared to areas where no culling took place.

For example, in areas of England where culling started in 2016, TB breakdowns fell from 17.2 per 100 herds to 8.7 per 100 herds within three years.