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Jim Paice MP, has written to Ben Bradshaw MP demanding answers to the following key questions:

 

  • Has any Government Minister seen the Trading Standards video in its entirety?

 

  • If no Minister has seen the video in its entirety how can the Government rule out the likelihood of the dog in the video pulling at a sheep carcase or part of one?

 

  • Why wasn’t the video made available to the Anderson Inquiry?

 

  • Who was responsible for this decision?

 

  • If submission of the video to the Anderson Inquiry was not considered, will Defra confirm that its non-availability was an omission?

 

  • Is there any form of evidence, whether clear or unclear, of infection anywhere in the UK earlier than that at Burnside Farm?

 

Mr Paice commented:

 

‘It is the lack of answers to these questions which provoke concerns that DEFRA has something to hide. Simple assurances are insufficient - farmers and taxpayers are entitled to know what really happened.’


Conservative Party

Press Release

25 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0DL

Tel (Press): 020 7984 8121

Tel (Broadcast Desk): 020 7984 8100

Fax: 020 7984 8272

www.conservatives.com

CONSERVATIVE

 

14 Dec 2004

Ref: 2224/04

 

   Conservatives demand answers over Foot         and Mouth

 

Following yesterday’s written statement on the Burnside Farm video, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Jim Paice MP, has written to Ben Bradshaw MP demanding answers to the following key questions:

 

  • Has any Government Minister seen the Trading Standards video in its entirety?

 

  • If no Minister has seen the video in its entirety how can the Government rule out the likelihood of the dog in the video pulling at a sheep carcase or part of one?

 

  • Why wasn’t the video made available to the Anderson Inquiry?

 

  • Who was responsible for this decision?

 

  • If submission of the video to the Anderson Inquiry was not considered, will Defra confirm that its non-availability was an omission?

 

  • Is there any form of evidence, whether clear or unclear, of infection anywhere in the UK earlier than that at Burnside Farm?

 

Mr Paice commented:

 

‘It is the lack of answers to these questions which provoke concerns that DEFRA has something to hide. Simple assurances are insufficient - farmers and taxpayers are entitled to know what really happened.’

 

 

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Notes to Editors

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Mr Paice wrote to Ben Bradshaw:

 

Dear Ben,

 

Thank you for your letter of 10th December and the Statement released yesterday following my challenges over the video of Burnside farm. Whilst you did correct your earlier answer regarding DEFRA’s knowledge of the video I am sorry that you did not see fit to apologise for misleading the House in your original answer.

 

The confusion which gave rise to your incorrect answer and is demonstrated by the sequence of events described in your letter illustrates the chaos which clearly existed and probably still does within your department.

 

From the phraseology of your last paragraph may we assume that despite the furore over this video and your responsibilities as Minister for animal health that you personally have not seen the entire video and that apart from the two references to extracts on the news no other Minister has seen it?

 

If that is correct how can you rule out the likelihood of the dog in the video pulling at a sheep carcase or part of one? Are you aware that everyone outside DEFRA who has seen the video is convinced that the dog is pulling at wool attached to something within a large heap of decomposing material? It may not be an entire sheep but it is clearly part of one. It is significant that in your last line you qualify your statement of the lack of evidence of infection earlier than at Burnside by using the word ‘clear’. I must assume from that qualification that there is some such evidence. You have repeatedly stated that the farm deteriorated after the last MAFF inspection by Mr Dring. Again, no-one with any knowledge of farming would agree that such deterioration as shown in the video could possibly occur in just 4 weeks.

 

You refer to the Anderson Inquiry. You have not yet explained why the video was not made available to the Inquiry. Given your explanation of the lack of communication between officials will you now state who made the decision not to provide the video to the Inquiry and why or alternatively confirm that it was not considered and that its non-availability was an omission? It is the lack of answers to these questions which provoke concerns that DEFRA has something to hide, simple assurances are insufficient. Farmers and taxpayers are entitled to know what really happened.

 

The most important issue is how the disease reached Burnside farm. If the Anderson Report is correct and it arrived by untreated swill that does not explain how the disease came to be in the swill. We know that there should not have been any meat in this country which came from countries where that strain of the disease existed. After the 1968 outbreak and the Classical Swine Fever epidemic a few months before this outbreak there were clear efforts to discover how the diseases entered Britain. Will you now explain what steps DEFRA has taken to answer this question?

 

Yours ever,

 

 

James Paice MP