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Release time: Immed

Released by: Peter Ainsworth MP

Date:31 January 2002










Ainsworth: what has Labour got to hide about foot & mouth?


Commenting on the news that the Attorney General is to appear personally at next months court action by farmers and vets over the failure of the Government to instigate an independent public inquiry, the Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Peter Ainsworth MP, said:


The fact that the Government is wheeling in the Attorney General to defend its refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Foot and Mouth calamity can only fuel suspicions that they have something serious to hide.


The Labour hierarchy will do anything to avoid independent, public scrutiny of their handling of the outbreak. Earlier this month they made every effort to thwart an inquiry by the European Parliament, now they are to bring on the full weight of the Governments law-machine to combat a group of farmers and vets who are trying to establish the truth about what went wrong. It is beneath contempt.


There is already plenty of evidence of incompetence and bungling from ministerial level downwards; there are allegations about fraud and the abuse of public funds; and there are questions to be answered about the legality of the Government's actions. I wish the farmers every success with their attempt to establish the facts but, if they fail, the public will be left to

draw its own conclusions about what, precisely, the Government has to fear.



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