A Midlothian farmer has been fined after being filmed punching two of his sheep.

William Brown, 59, of Herbertshaw Farm in Penicuik, was filmed by an undercover investigator from the pressure group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in July 2018.

PETA passed the footage to the Scottish SPCA, resulting in Mr Brown's prosecution at Jedburgh Sheriff Court, where he admitted to punching the two male sheep, causing unnecessary suffering, and was fined £550.

The SSPCA's John Chisholm said: "This is a serious case of animal cruelty by an experienced farmer. He will be fully aware that sheep experience fear and can perceive humans as a threat.

"Violently lashing out at the sheep will spread fear amongst the rest of the flock. We would expect anyone involved in the rearing of livestock for commercial purposes to have the highest standards of welfare and treatment."

Mr Chisholm added that the SSPCA was 'disappointed' that Mr Brown had not been banned from owning or working with animals, but hoped that his prosecution would serve as a warning that such behaviour to livestock was unacceptable – and that the SSPCA will fully investigate any reported incidents.

“We are grateful to the support and assistance provided by APHA in an example of partnership working," he added. “We would welcome the opportunity to discuss welfare practice with the wider industry.”