Bird smugglers get wings clipped in court

Two people from West Yorkshire have been found guilty of attempting to smuggle live birds into the country through Leeds Bradford Airport.

Fiaz Shah, of Flaxston Place, Bradford and Sobia Bibi, of Newbern Road, Bradford were both were charged with bringing birds into the country illegally, without an appropriate licence.

The attempts to bring the Franklin Partidges – also known as Grey Francolin birds – into the country were thwarted by Border Force officers earlier this year.

On 4 May, officers found four birds concealed inside a suitcase, and another five were detected on 11 May also in wooden cages hidden inside luggage.

All were found on passenger flights arriving at Leeds Bradford Airport from Islamabad.

Shah stated that the birds, native to South Asia and often bred for fighting, were intended as pets while Bibi claimed she didn’t know that the birds had been put in her suitcase.

Shah pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 hours unpaid community work, ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £150 towards costs.

Bibi pleaded guilty and was fined £305, and ordered to pay a further £30 victim surcharge and £1,000 towards costs.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment, said:

“This has certainly been one of the more unusual cases we’ve had to deal with. However, it demonstrates that we will use all the legal powers available to us to pursue those who’d put the health and safety of people and animals at risk.”

Kevin Parsons, Border Force Assistant Director at Leeds Bradford Airport, said:

“Our officers work hard to prevent all forms of smuggling, whether the items smuggled are drugs, weapons, tobacco or live animals as in this case.

“We welcome the prosecution brought by Leeds City Council. It is vitally important that unregulated attempts to bring livestock into the UK are stopped - to protect the health of both animals and humans and to prevent animal cruelty.”

The prosecution follows a detailed investigation by the council’s health, safety and animal welfare team. Evidence gathered by Border Force officers was crucial to the case as was the knowledge of Manchester Trading Standards who assisted in the early stages of the investigation, having dealt with similar matters at Manchester Airport.


The cases were brought under the Importation of Birds, Poultry and Hatching Eggs Order 1979.

Franklin Partridges are a native wild bird of South Asia. Like all wild birds they carry bird flu viruses in their intestines, but do not usually become ill from them. Bird flu is highly contagious among birds and can prove fatal for domesticated animals like chickens, ducks and turkeys. There is also a potential risk to human health, for those who come into contact with infected birds.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk