The UK Rural Business Campaign today announces five meetings to be held over the next two weeks across the country rallying support for businesses seeking compensation from the Government as a result of its handling of Foot and Mouth.

On Monday December 3rd

., the day before the committee stage of the Animal Health Bill, campaign leaders and its solicitors, Class Law, will brief MPs in Westminster. The meeting will be at 11.00am in Portcullis House and will be followed by a press conference at approximately 12.30pm. The campaign is also seeking to amend the Animal Health Bill to ensure it does not infringe Human Rights or the interests of rural businesses.

The first regional meeting takes place at the Bishop's Meadow Hotel in Brecon, Wales, at 11am on Thursday 29th November.

It will be followed by another at 4pm at the Langstone Court Hotel, Dawlish Warren, in Devon later the same day.

On Wednesday 12th December the campaign moves to Cumbria with a meeting at the Swallow Hilltop Hotel, Carlisle, at 2pm

. Businesses in Scotland will also meet on the 12th at 7.30pm at the Cairndale Hotel, Dumfries.

The English and Welsh Tourist boards estimate that the rural leisure industry has lost £5.1 billion of turnover since the outbreak in February this year. Thousands more rural dependent businesses have also suffered huge losses and many small companies have been forced out of business.

Ian Mitchell, Chairman of the UK Rural Business Campaign, said:

"Many farmers and businesses are struggling to survive this winter. They have endured contradictory Government advice and countless bungled decisions from it and its agencies. Discussions with ministers have produced nothing. Legal action is now the only way to get justice for thousands of rural businesses."

Peter Ainsworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Foreign Affairs, commented: "Just as the Government failed to get a grip on the original outbreak and allowed it to spread out of control, they have utterly failed to understand the continuing impact across many parts of rural Britain.

"Not only farming has been affected - massive damage has been inflicted on thousands of small businesses which are the lifeblood of the countryside.

The Government is blind to the misery and hardship caused by the outbreak. I congratulate these campaigners on their fight. By refusing a full independent Public Inquiry, we can only conclude Margaret Beckett has something to hide."

Stephen Alexander, of Class Law Solicitors, added:

"The Animal Health Bill, which will empower officials to kill animals suspected of carrying a disease without right of appeal, is the most serious infringement of the fundamental rights citizens enjoy under the law. The people in this country are unaware of the serious consequences it poses to their freedom."

For further information about the campaign and its aims, please contact:

Ian Mitchell, UK Rural Business Campaign 07831 323764

Stephen Alexander, Class Law Solicitors 020 7724 2526

Adrian Lithgow, Lehmann Communications 020 7266 3020
Simon Walsh, Lehmann Communications 020 7266 3020