Extract from transcript of SC session on 29.11.01 (am):
Mr. Morley: Some went to court, and some did not. There was a repeated claim that Alayne Addy assisted 200 farmers to resist the contiguous cull in Devon. We have no record of legal cases concerning 200 farmers there. We had many appeals to the deputy veterinary manager. The hon. Lady rightly said that we introduced exemptions for cattle if the case was reasonable. Those cases did not have to go to court. It is in solicitors' interest to claim that some great change was brought about by legal action. There is a vested interest there.
Incidentally, it was stated- it may be a mistake by the newspapers-that not one premise on which there was a challenge became infected. That is not the case. At least three premises dealt with by Burges Salmon were later confirmed as infected. Three cases went to the High Court. We lost only one case, and the premises concerned went on to become infected. That is incorrect because I have details of three cases that went on to be confirmed as positive. One of only three cases that went to the High Court related to Alayne Addy, whose premises went on to become infected.
In reply to a query about this, Alan Beat said:
Here's Morley's answer from Alayne Addy. We have interviewed Mr and Mrs Wilmetts on camera (with Bonnie) and I will never forget him breaking down with emotion as he described what MAFF did to him, his animals and his community. They "fixed" his farm with a false test result as Alayne describes here in guarded terms - she has a job to keep but, bless her, she is not afraid to speak out.
Now let's have some answers from Burgess Salmon. THEN Morley has some explaining to do.
I don't quite know what we can do to correct Mr Morley and his wilful misreading of this situation !
He is correct to repeat that I assisted over 200 farmers in Devon (and elsewhere) to resist the contiguous cull. NONE of those farmers who saved their healthy livestock subsequently became infected with the disease.
He is incorrect to imply that I instituted any legal action against MAFF. His files will show that it was MAFF that took the decision and initiative on any legal action that was commenced against any of those 200 farmers. Many farmers were threatened with High Court legal cases by MAFF, but only three of my clients were actually dragged into the High Court by MAFF (details and names below).
One farmer won against MAFF in the High Court - but was later, and under much protest, declared to be 'an infected premises' by MAFF despite the cattle there being perfectly healthy and showing no signs of disease whatsoever (see below).
Stephens & Scown, by whom I am employed, represented the three farmers that resisted the contiguous cull and were dragged into the High Court in actions commenced and brought by MAFF. Mr Morley (will) be able to see this from his files and he will also be able to confirm that the names of these farmers and the dates of the High Court Hearings were Winslade on Monday 21st May, followed by Jordan and Wilmetts on Friday 25th May.
Mr Morley seems here to be referring to the one case won by a farmer against MAFF in the High Court - being Wilmetts on 25th May - where the MAFF Regional Office in Exeter then many days later declared the farm 'an infected place' ... despite their own veterinary inspectors confirming on the farm earlier on that very same day that all livestock there were totally healthy and that none of the cattle on the farm were at that time showing, or had shown, any signs of the disease.
No-one really understands or knows why Mr Wilmet's farm was declared an infected premises in early June. Although it is starting to look very convenient for MAFF/DEFRA now.
What MAFF said at the time, under pressure from this firm, was that they had re-tested at Pirbright and found anti-bodies in the blood of one winter-keep sheep which had previously been tested prior to slaughter in early May (on another part of the same farm) and that the test results had 'just become available' in June.
This is all very important - as it is becoming very clear to me that the sole plank in terms of evidence being used by Mr Morley to justify the drastic new powers proposed by the Government, seems to be this one farm. So the full circumstances of the suspiciously convenient imposition and declaration of 'infected premises' status, which we were all very unhappy about at the time, need to be available and understood by everyone.
As I think I have said before, anywhere can become 'an infected place' if MAFF office staff chose to declare it so on the basis that they suspect the disease is present. That should not though, in this particular case, be seen to imply that the disease was present !!?! and certainly not at the time the farm was declared so by MAFF - or at any time before or since.
The Judge in one of our cases (Wilmetts, as I recall) was very critical of the role of office-based MAFF staff deciding upon important matters of disease control and cull policy without the benefit of personal or informed local knowledge.
please circulate this as widely as you feel necessary, so that everyone understands the situation. Mr Morley cannot change the facts - and although he may chose to interpret them one way at present, he may yet find himself open to a suggestion of the very "vested interest" that he here declares exists amongst those pressing him for answers to tricky questions.
Stephens & Scown