DEFRA throws away agricultural expertise

Andrew Taylor explained today how bullying in a DEFRA department (the cattle tracing project (CTS) that developed software for British Cattle Movements System) at Guildford in November 2000 resulted in his being unjustly sacked, just months before his unique combination of farming experience and expertise in farming related software were so desperately needed. "I felt so dreadful about this that I couldn't watch the news about foot and mouth for six months. I felt I could have helped - and that was unbearable." Mr Taylor's career in farming had had to stop when he became an epileptic - a disability that ought to have been unaffected by his new chosen career as a contractor in software writing. It was Mr Taylor who had written the software to simplify the paperwork sent to farmers about cattle passports - bad as it still is for farmers, without Mr Taylor it would have been considerably worse.

Months of bullying in the office at Guildford caused the weight of this six foot tall man to go down to seven and a half stone. Medication he took to carry on made him tremble continuously although it didn't affect his excellence at the job. He asked to be transferred - but was told to stay on the project, to "stop feeling emotional" and that if he made a complaint he would be sacked. In the end he was sacked anyway "for harassment" by a DEFRA manager who preferred be rid of a victim rather than attempt to resolve the very unpleasant manipulating atmosphere of an office. In spite of all the manipulation and sniping, Mr Taylor wanted to stay within DEFRA since, having had to retire from farming, at least his work in Defra was connected directly to it. "It was much more than just a job."

His epilepsy was so exacerbated by the bullying, innuendo and stress of the situation that he says his illness is of life-threatening proportions. For well over six months, Mr Taylor has tried at least to clear his name. He has written evidence of the conspiring that went on to remove him. He, like so many others in the aftermath of FMD suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He was so distressed by the downright unfairness and cruel circumstances of his dismissal that, once he felt strong enough, he applied to DEFRA to complain. Nothing resulted from this. His wish to take his case to a tribunal came "too late" . In spite of the fact that he considers that he has enough evidence to clear his name and prove that his dismissal was unfair, no inquiry has been allowed.

He feels that the department has wasted literally millions because the wrong people are trying to do a job they do not understand. According to Mr Taylor this nastiness in the office, attributable to just two people one in a position of authority, had already resulted in the loss of at least three committed and talented people. He says - even though he is now living on his savings - financial compensation is the least of his concerns. He only wants to feel that his case is listened to and that the dysfunctional DEFRA department be overhauled. "I want people in the farming community to get the best and quickest response from the department - and for that there has to be decent management and decency in its internal dealings." Mr Andrew Taylor can be contacted on 01444 443088 email