Chief scientist is 'most brazen'
Source: FWi 19 December 2002

By Farmers Weekly staff

THE award for the "most brazen performance of the year in the face of hostile evidence" goes to the government’s chief scientific advisor, says The Times.

The paper's Thunderer column headlined "A bovine attempt to vaccinate us against the truth" is dedicated to Professor David King.

Columnist Magnus Linklater writes that Professor David King believes the handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis was "quite an achievement" and "a magnificent record".

But Mr Linklater says this is taking presentation beyond mere spin.

"It is the steamroller approach to bad news – you simply flatten it into the ground and roll on as if nothing had happened."

Prof King and his colleagues have "consistently claimed" that vaccination against foot-and-mouth would be unworkable.

But Mr Linklater argues that this flies in the face of a report by MEPs which insists that emergency vaccination should no longer be regarded as a last resort.

"One might have thought that this conclusion, flying as it does in the face of government policy, would have provoked a vigorous response from Prof King," writes Mr Linklater.

"But no. Pressed to say how Britain would respond if it there was another outbreak, he talked about the importance of restricting animal movements."

Mr Linklater continues: "I find Prof King's obduracy almost impossible to comprehend.

"In Uruguay recently, a full scale foot-and-mouth outbreak was brought under control after all its 10 million cattle had been vaccinated…

"Why then is that route not open to Britain?”