The origin of FMD 2001 is still not known -
but if the index case was Bobby Waugh's Burnside Farm - as is implied by the government - then Jim Dring's statements about negligence are of grave significance.Latest News below
Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001, written in June 2002 is DEFRA's own account,( written by Jim Scudamore,) of the actions and investigations leading to the assumptions made about the origin of the 2001 FMD outbreak. In discussing the Waugh premises, Mr Scudamore admits that "pigs that had been sent to slaughter may have had older disease than that evident on the farm at the time of the 24 February investigation, so disease may have entered the premises earlier in January." (i.e. at the time of the SVS and Trading Standards inspection visit on January 24th where "no notifiable disease" was detected.)
The possibility that the virus had originally been imported illegally in livestock or semen is not mentioned by the DEFRA paper. By the time he wrote the paper, Mr Scudamore appears to accept the Donaldson research about the limited airborne spread of Asia strain O since he writes, "The probability of other sources is very low especially with this strain of virus." Yet in 2001, hundreds of farms were illegally culled because of the supposed risk of airborne spread. In most cases, tests were not carried out - in spite of Mr Scudamore's assertion to the EU that "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..."
The idea of legal imports of infected meat is discounted: "the complex of risk management measures makes the practical reality of this occurring extremely unlikely." However, we see from the recent emergence of bovine brucellosis in the UK that "risk management measures" have not been able to prevent the importation of diseased animals from a country where the disease is prevalent (in the case of brucellosis in Scotland, from Ireland.) The conclusion in Mr Scudamore's paper is that the origin of the 2001 outbreak was via illegal imports of meat or meat products, that found their way into pigswill - but this is based on evidence that is circumstantial.
The Jim Dring Statement (the version on the DEFRA website) click here
recent comments (2004):
The Burnside Farm Video
Ben Bradshaw on the Burnside Video Dec 16 04Back to warmwell.com website
Farming Today for December 16 2004
Synopsis from Farming Today websiteThe Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to launch a fresh inquiry into the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak because of a video they say may amount to new evidence.
The video, shot by trading standards officers, shows conditions on Bobby Waugh's farm in Northumberland where the outbreak's believed to have started. It was taken the day after foot and mouth was confirmed in his pigs. The video wasn't sent to the inquiry led by Dr Iain Anderson which focussed on lessons to be learnt.
The Tories' farming spokesman, James Paice, tells the programme it could help us understand how the outbreak started. But the Animal Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw, says the video contains nothing significant.
transcript of part of the programme...The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to launch a fresh inquiry into the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak because of a video that they say may contain new evidence. Shot by Trading Standards officers, it shows conditions on Bobby Waugh's farm in Northumberland where the outbreak is believed to have started.
It was taken the day after foot and mouth was confirmed in his pigs. The video wasn't sent to the Inquiry led by Dr Iain Anderson which focussed on Lessons to be Learned.
In a moment we'll hear from the Animal Health Minister, who says it shows nothing new.
But first the Tories' farming spokesman, James Paice, believes it may well be significant.
JP - "Most people didn't know about this video until it emerged a couple of months ago and all the questioning of Ministers have served to increase the confusion about it rather than resolve it. The Minister, Ben Bradshaw, produced a letter to me, a statement in the House of Commons, on Monday which basically catalogues a series of errors and confusion; bits that DEFRA didn't know what other bits of DEFRA did know what they were doing, whether they had copies of the video or if they hadn't - so it raises the question as to why it wasn't presented to the Anderson Inquiry looking into Lessons to be Learned.
Most people who have seen that video believe that there is a picture of a dog pulling at what looks like a dead sheep or part of a dead sheep in a mound of decomposing material which raises the question which many people have asked as to how the disease got to Burnside Farm and it's no slight on Professor (sic) Anderson to say his report does not actually address how it got there other than saying it came in untreated swill. And all this video evidence now I think increases the need for an explanation from the Minister as to why the video was not given to the inquiry, who made that decision or was it actually never considered, was it an omission rather than a commission. And in the light of it to redouble our calls which we have been making for some time for there to be a proper public inquiry."
Well the Animal Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw, issued a statement denying that there has been any cover-up over this video. The video, he says, is inconclusive, it doesn't clearly show a dog tugging at a sheep's carcass, and anyway, the video was publicly aired at Bobby Waugh's court case.
JP - But not all the video was, only extracts, and the Minister himself says that Ministers - he refers to Elliott Morley and Lord Whitty - both saw extracts on the news. That's pretty irresponsible from the Minister for Animal Health. He appears not to have even seen it himself. He's working on what he's been told. I think that's irresponsible but I also know that most people who have seen that video take a very different view. But the key thing is that fundamental question that has never been asked - or answered properly - is how the disease got to Burnside Farm. Whether it came in untreated swill - which may be the case- but what effort was made to trace the source of that untreated swill, where it came from. The real issue is to make sure this disease does not come back and unless there's a real effort to get to the bottom of that we will never be sure that we an prevent it happening again.You believe this video should have been shown to the Anderson Inquiry. There isn't a single fact that we know about that has come out of the video though that would have changed the direction of the Anderson Inquiry.
We don't know anything conclusively, of course not, but if professor Anderson was not given all the evidence then how can you guarantee that his conclusions are those he would have come to if he had had all the evidence. And to me the fact that he wasn't shown a pretty significant piece of visual evidence, as opposed to receiving just written and verbal evidence - is quite damaging. I think he needs to be allowed to see that video, or a proper inquiry needs to see it so that we can actually get to the bottom of the fundamental issue which is how the disease got to Burnside Farm and more importantly how it got into England, bearing in mind that we should never have had any foodstuffs in this country from countries where that particular strain of foot and mouth is endemic.Well, joining us now is the Animal Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw. A significant piece of visual evidence, says James Paice, surely of great interest to anyone inquiring either into the origins of the outbreak or the lessons we should learn from it.
BB - Yes, and shown widely as you said in your questioning at the time by the media at Bobby Waugh's trial. I have now seen this video and I've seen I think probably a different version from James Paice, a better version than the one he was shown by the pigswill campaigners, which was I understand rather grainy and I can't identify what was being pulled out and neither can the deputy chief vet or any the experts that have viewed it as well.There were only extracts seen in the media at the time. You say the video constitutes no new evidence but given the important to all of us of learning as much as we can about this outbreak and where it came from, why not ask Dr Anderson to make, to pass judgement on whether it is significant or not.
BB - Well we have and he said he doesn't wish to look at it. he doesn't think it does contain any evidence, any new evidence so it's not me saying this, it's the people who were there at the time who personally talked both to the vet Jim Dring and the other officials who were there at the time who gathered painstakingly the evidence on which Bobby Waugh was prosecuted for breaking the law and endangering the health of not only his own animals but the whole country and they say that that evidence they gathered was all given both to both Anderson and to the trial and that the video contains nothing new.The farm had been inspected and licenced only a month earlier by a government vet and the Conservatives suspect that the government's regulatory system may have been at fault here . Evidence which may or may not show that surely needs to be judged independently.
BB - Well, vets and animal health experts tell me that foot and mouth is a highly virulent disease that spreads very quickly and that pigs in particular deteriorate extremely fast and as came out at the time when not just the Anderson Inquiry but the other inquiries took place, the conclusion was that it was perfectly possible for the time between Jim Dring's visit in the January and his visit a month later for the pigs to have deteriorated to that extent shown not just in the film but in the evidence given both to Anderson and the Court case.
Both the Conservative and the Liberal Democrats argue that the video evidence together with the note taken form the government vet you mentioned, Jim Dring, who inspected Burnside Farm in which he wonders if he should have granted it a licence, both these things taken together justify a fresh inquiry. It is hard to argue against.
BB - Well it's not.There have been so many inquiries. Jim Dring made quite clear at the time that he was writing that memo with the benefit of hindsight. What did happen at Burnside Farm we know with the benefit of hindsight. He says as well in that.. in that.. in his memorandum that at the time in January he saw nothing amiss and he did a proper inspection. I don't think anyone is suggesting that he didn't.Finally and briefly, underlying this is a suspicion in some minds that infection may have been present elsewhere in the UK earlier than at Burnside Farm. Now is there any form of evidence - conclusive or not - that that was the case? Briefly if you can.
BB - No. And Anderson looked into this. James Paice was quite wrong to say that there had never been an epidemiological study. There was and Burnside Farm was the first outbreak and no sheep were found on Burnside Farm.ends
21 March - 28 March 2005 ~ "It does seem to me that if we are going to learn lessons then actually identifying where and why it broke out is a vital step."
WMN reports (Friday) that Angela Browning has
" stepped up calls for a fresh inquiry into the foot and mouth disaster after ... she was alarmed by comments made by Sir Brian Bender, which suggest Government inspectors had ignored breaches of animal health laws at Bobby Waugh's Northumberland pig farm. ... Despite the apparent breach of regulations, Waugh was granted a new licence to feed swill just one month before the outbreak began. The revelation is potentially significant because the outbreak is thought to have started as a result of unprocessed swill, containing infected meat, being fed to pigs on Waugh's farm. Speaking in the Commons yesterday Mrs Browning...said: ".... we still have not had a definitive answer from the Government about the cause and the lessons to be learned. We've had many inquiries, but none of them seem to have been joined up."Sir Brian's comments came in a letter to the Association of Swill Users.
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ Mrs Browning is still waiting
On February 23rd (three weeks ago) at the Public Accounts Committee Meeting, Angela Browning M.P was told by Sir Brian Bender in answer to her questions about Burnside Farm that
" I am very happy to provide the Committee with a note on that. I have not come prepared with sufficient, to be fair either to Mrs Browning asking the question or, indeed, to Mr Dring in the way I respond to it. I am very happy to provide the Committee with a note afterwards. I apologise for not being able to answer it now."DEFRA have asked her for a copy of the map she produced at the hearing but we understand that she is still waiting for DEFRA responses to the questions.
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ If Heddon-on-the-Wall really was the index case then the government cannot deny its own responsibility for Foot and Mouth 2001
The Northumberland Trading Standards video of Bobby Waugh's farm during was shown to a group of MPs on Thursday at Portcullis House. The licensed pig swill industry was one of the innocent scapegoats of FMD 2001. Their livelihood - a #40 million industry - was brought by the government to an abrupt end in 2001 - a slamming of the stable door when no horse had ever been present. The government was quick to designate Heddon-on-the-Wall the index case for FMD and to blame pigswill. Having stated so explicitly that Bobby Waugh's farm was the index case, the government cannot now deny its own responsibility.
The video shown to MPs indicated that Jim Dring and the government State Veterinary Service - in contravention of the Animal By-Products Order 1999 which made it "an offence to allow livestock access to catering waste containing meat or products of animal origin, or catering waste which originates from a premises on which meat or products of animal origin are handled." - failed to take notice of the unprocessed swill at Burnside Farm on several occasions. A "more rigorous" inspection of Waugh's farm would have led to the removal of Mr Waugh's licence - as Mr Dring himself, undoubtedly a decent man, said in the statement he intended for the Anderson Inquiry but whose existence only came to light a year ago.
In the future, animal health policy must have the trust of those in the front line. Four years ago, crass reliance on the untried and unsound mass kill policy of such as David King, Roy Anderson, Mark Woolhouse and John Krebs led to almost incalculable losses both in terms of money and in social and psychological misery. Then as now, an election was coming and the government wanted a quick fix. The emergence of zoonoses that seriously threaten human health will not be countered by a quick fix. Policies to combat them must be taken seriously, properly funded and the mistakes of the past acknowledged.
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ FMD Index case : Did these witness statements go to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry?
A press release from the Associated Swill Users asks some dramatic questions Extract:
".....State Veterinary Officer Leonard Mansley MRCVS made a written witness statement that unbroken ovine vertebrae" were present in the pig pens at Burnside Farm at the time that FMD was discovered.Read in full
Question. Did this witness statement go to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry?
..... A witness has recently stated that four sheep, less tongues and ears, were added to the fire at Heddon View Farm by MAFF officials. These sheep did not come from Heddon View Farm.
Question. Where did these sheep come from? Were these sheep tested for FMD?
Mr James Dring MRCVS made a witness statement confirming that he had the opportunity on two occasions, at Pirbright Laboratory in Surrey, to see and handle live animals with FMD. Question. Did this witness statement go to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry?
Question. Were healthy animals deliberately infected with FMD? How many other vets handled such animals? .."
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~"What I am really asking you is if Defra had managed to uphold its own regulations could they have prevented the foot and mouth outbreak occurring?"
Angela Browning asked questions at the Public Accounts Committee that were extremely uncomfortable for DEFRA given that it is the government itself that has so stoutly maintained that Burnside Farm was the index case and that the feeding of untreated swill was to blame for the outbreak (No proof of the origin of the outbreak has in fact ever reached the public domain) :
"Sir Brian, are you aware that Bobby Waugh, whose farm was identified as the index case for foot and mouth in 2001, was contravening Article 21(2) of the Animal Byproducts Order 1999 at Burnside Farm? ....Are you aware that the State Veterinary Officer, Jim Dring, made a signed submission to the Anderson's Lessons Learned Inquiry in which he admits that he was aware that Mr Bobbie Waugh was bringing unprocessed catering waste on to Burnside Farm prior to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001?.... I would ask you whether you accept that there was negligence within the management structure of the State Veterinary Service which allowed Mr Dring's work to go unmonitored?....Will you let us know whether you accept that the SVS accept responsibility for Mr Dring's actions?...... What I am really asking you is if Defra had managed to uphold its own regulations could they have prevented the foot and mouth outbreak occurring?... "Read oral evidence in full.
November 20 - 26 2004 ~ "whether or not there were other things that we should have asked for and did not, I do not know.."
Alun Evans, the Secretary of the Anderson Inquiry, gave evidence to the Public Administration Committee (see also below) on 22 June 2004
" .... how do you know you have got all the evidence and all the facts at your disposal, and that is almost an unanswerable question, apart from the fact everything we asked for we got from government. We had to do a bit of digging at some stages to get it and whether or not there were other things that we should have asked for and did not, I do not know....I cannot say we did not find that people lied to us (sic) but we have no evidence that people were not telling us things that they should have done..... ...."In other words Mr Evans and Dr Anderson had to know what to ask for and what to ask about. Dr Anderson told the EFRA Committee in July 2002 "I do not believe that any information that is material has been withheld from me." To Colin Breed's question: ".. it is not impossible that notes were re-written and others lost?" he replied, "Obviously nothing is impossible. I simply say I have no evidence which supports that."
Neither the video of conditions at Burnside nor the lengthy statement by the SVS vet Mr James Dring were volunteered by MAFF/DEFRA. While the Anderson Inquiry had " full access to the Cabinet papers" they were not allowed to remove them and had to make notes there and then "rather than if we had judicial powers for some of the notes of the meetings we wanted."
Mr Evans said, of Lessons Learned, that
"... as well as being shown to be a robust inquiry it also had something of a cathartic effect on the community that had suffered, and I think Dr Anderson did that well. .."Words do rather fail one. Read more
November 20 - 26 2004 ~ All party Welsh AMs watch Burnside video
"....All who saw the footage were appalled at the state of the farm and were critical of Trading Standards officers and ministry vets who had granted Burnside Farm, Heddon-on-the-Wall, a licence to operate.
Former farm protest leader Brynle Williams - now a Conservative AM - questioned how the farm had been allowed to continue to trade." See FWI article
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ "Michael Jack MP, chairman of the EFRA select committee, told FW that he would hold a viewing of the tape in the coming days.... "
Mr Bradshaw will not watch it, DEFRA denies there is anything new - but many politicians have now seen or want to see the FMD video and are asking why it was not shown to Dr Anderson's Inquiry and why, if the outbreak really originated at Burnside Farm, the fact of the video's existence and that of Mr Dring's statement should have been withheld from Lessons Learned. Mr Waugh was made to sign the official secrets act - but the government was free to say what it liked. On the 13th February 2001 sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, were found to be infected. Government actions let it be assumed that Waugh's pigs were the source - yet the video suggests the possibility of the presence of infected sheep carcasses on the farm premises even as an "inspection" was taking place. Jonathan Riley's report in last friday's Farmers Weekly shows that many MPs and senior veterinary figures have now seen, or have asked to see, the video taken at Burnside farm.
"The state of the farm in Feb 2001, just four weeks after it had been approved in a government inspection, was made clear in a showing of the video organised by FARMERS WEEKLY (News, Oct 29). It left vets and MPs shocked and appalled and has prompted a barrage of parliamentary questions ......answering Mr Paice's question, junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw said his department had first obtained a copy of the video on Sept 30, 2004 ...... A cross-party group of MPs saw the video Thursday morning (Nov 11) in London, and Michael Jack MP, chairman of the EFRA select committee, told FW that he would hold a viewing of the tape in the coming days. A group of senior vets has also requested a copy of the tape to hold a behind-closed doors viewing. And the Welsh Assembly's plans to show the tape next Tuesday (Nov 16) are well advanced. The Association of Swill Users has planned its showing for Sat, Nov 13." Read in full
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ DEFRA says no sheep found at Burnside...
The exact wording of Written Answers to parliamentary questions is always worth examining. From Hansard for November 15th: Mr Bradshaw ".... There is no new evidence that indicates that the disease was present anywhere else earlier than at Burnside Farm." and " Defra found no dead sheep on Burnside Farm either on 24 February or on any other date in 2001" Neither statement says definitively quite what it implies. "No new evidence" is not the same as "no evidence" and "Defra found no dead sheep" does not mean that there were no dead sheep.
Jason Groves' article in Wednesday's Western Morning News reports that
"the Government denied that dead sheep had been found on the Northumberland pig farm where the epidemic is thought to have started - despite video evidence to the contrary... The emergence of the video prompted the Shadow Agriculture Minister Owen Paterson to table a number of Parliamentary questions asking whether the sheep had been tested for foot and mouth. In his reply Mr Bradshaw, who has refused to watch the video, said the department "found no dead sheep on Burnside Farm either on 24 February or on any other date in 2001" Read in fullThe article also quotes Andrew George: "It is a poor quality video, but I saw a sheep carcass there. Maybe the carcass was alive and walked off....
... it seems that all relevant papers went to Dr Anderson except for the most juicy, most relevant ones....
....It is all very well blaming Bobby Waugh, but the fact is that his farm was allowed to get into that state and still given a licence."
November 4 - November 11 ~ Mr Bradshaw: "Defra recently obtained copies of the video ...."
Burnside Farm Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department was first informed of the existence of a video of Burnside Farm taken by Northumberland Trading Standards officers on 23 February 2001; and when her Department first obtained a copy of the video. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 28 October 2004]: A Defra official was present at Burnside Farm on 24 February 2001 when the video of the conditions on the farm was being made by Northumberland Trading Standards Department. Defra officials saw some of the video when it was shown at Robert Waugh's trial in May 2002. Defra recently obtained copies of the video when it was referred to in correspondence received by Defra officials on 30 September 2004.
November 4 - November 11 ~ The case officer who had been pursuing the Swill feeders' case for the Ombudsman has been "promoted" away
We hear from Robert Persey: "The Parliamentary Ombudsman has promoted the case officer who was making good progress on the swill feeding case.
Surprise, surprise, he has not been replaced and so the investigation has conveniently stopped.
Is somebody pulling strings with the Ombudsman?"
It certainly looks like it. The case has been beset by diversionary tactics for months.
November 4 - November 11 ~"We're getting somewhere now. We have a voice and the government will surely have to listen now that the Parliamentary Ombudsman is investigating our case."
See Royal Agricultural Society of England's website ".... Lynda Davies, who lives near Manchester, is the driving force behind a campaign in support of swill feeders who were severely hit by the crisis. The British Pig and Poultry Fair's British Pig Personality of the Year' judges announced their decision to create a special award for a unique contribution by a unique person'. ........Ian Bell, Director of rural charity the ARC-Addington Fund, said that Lynda had fought against the social problems caused by the crisis, which were often neglected in favour of economic considerations.
Lynda began a fight for justice after the finger of blame was pointed at swill feeders in the aftermath of FMD, and her own husband's business was badly hit. In the three years since the government banned swill feeding no compensation has been made to the people who earned their living from it."
November 4 - November 11 ~ The smell from the Burnside bins made the postman gag...
every time he passed Burnside. We understand that Trading Standards officers spent many man hours compiling reports on their investigations into Burnside Farm at Heddon on the Wall.
Our information is that local council dustmen were interviewed about conditions outside the farm. A postman had made a statement saying that the smell from the bins in the yard was overpowering and that he actually 'gagged' every time he passed Burnside. A school cook made a statement about the waste given to Waugh. Locals had been interviewed, as well as a man who worked for BT. All agreed that the place was disgusting. One wonders whether these reports were given to the Lessons Learned Inquiry or quietly shelved.
November 4 - November 11 ~ "A spokesman for DEFRA last night said if there was any evidence to support the allegations it would start a new investigation"
Valerie Elliott in the Times on Monday "...video evidence obtained by Farmers Weekly from Northumberland Trading Standards shows that the virus could have been taken on to the pig farm, which was ran by Bobby Waugh, in the carcasses of sheep ...
...A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said last night that if there were any evidence to support the allegations it would start a new investigation."Read in full
Ms Elliott's article notwithstanding, it is the allegations concerning the scandal of the state of the farm and its being condoned by those who had the power to step in - which ought to "start a new investigation"
November 4 - November 11 ~ " There were complaints about fires burning on the site and swill being tipped at the side of the road..."
"..The place was very untidy. But at the end of the day, I pay my taxes for people like Defra and Trading Standards to inspect premises like this and see that they are kept up to standard. Their attitude to this place was very lackadaisical. If it had been policed properly this would never have occurred in the first place." Extract from the article from icNewcastle May 31 2002.
As an emailer wrote at the weekend, "Waugh was undoubtedly an insensitive farmer and his pigs were treated abominably, but pigs are still treated inhumanely, pig disease is still rife, still hidden and covered up for the sake of trade just as it was in East Anglia in the months before FMD struck. No lessons have been learned. The suggestion that there was at Burnside material that was either not noticed or deliberately not investigated is important. However sorry one feels for the overworked officials concerned, a new inquiry at which answers are demanded would now seem imperative. The questions are not going to go away."
November 4 - November 11 ~ Evidence against Waughs being the index case
- FMD virus was never recovered from the pig swill and there was a lot of it about - in untreated form
- A single airborne spread event (HoW to Prestwick Hall) would seem illogical
- Presence of sheep carcase(s) from Ponteland on Waugh's bonfire means that MAFF investigations as to alternative origins should have been rigorous - they do not appear to have been (video).
- Ageing of lesions is inaccurate - especially ageing of old lesions (e.g. 10 days or more).
- All 11 blue faced Leicesters treated for 'foot scald' (sic) at Prestwick Hall farm on Feb 10 and 20 were antibody positive and 3 had 'old FMD lesions' - so FMD was indeed present at this farm from late January or early February.
- Anderson did not try and establish the origins of the epidemic, just as he did not test the scientific validity of the contiguous culling policy
November 4 - November 11 ~ Video raises FMD theory doubts
Source: FWi 05 November 2004 Jonathan Riley
"..........the emergence of the Northumberland Trading Standards video, taken on Bobby Waugh's Burnside Farm in Feb 2001 (News, Oct 29), FW has unearthed evidence of a possible alternative mode of transmission.See also FWi page "Did the disease start in sheep?""...documented evidence a paper published by the Veterinary Record in April 2003 also supposed that the foot lesions seen at Prestwick Hall Farm could have been F&M lesions. (see also email received) .." See also Welsh Assembly's rural affairs committee ask to see a copy of the Burnside Farm video
The video shows a dog tearing at a dead sheep on Burnside's rubbish heap and has begged the question from all of those who have seen the video, "How did the sheep get there?". Speaking to Mr Waugh, FW has learned that the animal shown in the video was one of eight dead sheep, brought on to the farm on Jan 24, 2001 four weeks before the disease was confirmed at the farm. Mr Waugh said that the sheep were brought to his farm by a man, whose name is withheld, from land near to Prestwick Hall Farm. "We put the sheep in a shed out of the way for a while because Jim Dring [the government vet] was due to carry out his inspection for my Article 26 licence that afternoon," he said. The sheep were dragged out of the shed and burned over the next few days. Bristol University professor, Sheila Crispin, said: "The presence of the sheep at Burnside Farm and the emerging details of the movements from a site near Prestwick Hall, create considerable uncertainty over the agreed transmission theory." Read in full
November 4 - November 11 ~ Sheep tests showed disease nearly three weeks before FMD officially recognised
Sheep which had been transported to France nearly three weeks before FMD was officially identified, with health certificates signed by Welsh Assembly vets, were shown to have been infected. Once again, the names of Hugues Inizan and Marc Nozin must be remembered.
In January 2001 sheep exported from Brecon and Ross-on- Wye to France showed signs of FMD. 31 sheep were tested. 21 of those sheep proved negative, but 10 proved positive, with 7 testing highly positive. Joyce Quin, in answer to Stephen O'Brien, said in the House of Commons on May 8 2001
"The French authorities have now informed us that the seven samples that initially showed positive results have been re-tested with negative results. They have concluded that the initial serological positive reactions must be considered as false positives..."Mr O'brien tabled several other PQs about this by MPs, as did Mr James Paice. As far as we can ascertain, answers were unsatisfactory.
( Our own researches in France met first with interest and then with stony, even frightened, silence.)
November 4 - November 11 ~ Parliamentary Questions being asked today
by Andrew George and Owen Paterson concerning the scientific test samples sent to Pirbright and results of those test samples. Read here
(We await with interest the answer to Mr Paterson's question: ".... what tests were made on the dead sheep shown in the Burnside Farm video taken by trading standards officials on 24th February 2001 to determine their cause of death; and what the results were of those tests." The dead sheep at Burnside, seen on the video but not mentioned in Mr Dring's statement (pdf), are of particular interest in view of Dr Renton's view and in view of the information we were given that the sheep originated from Ponteland where they had been "ill")
November 4 - November 11 ~ "I have absolutely no doubt that there was a cover-up" Owen Paterson
."Michael Howard has pledged to review the case for a full public inquiry into the foot and mouth disaster in the light of new evidence of a Government cover-up " is the front page news of the Western Morning News (Thursday)
" . .. The Tory leader ..... stressed that he would prefer to see those responsible held to account while they were still in office. ..It really won't wash to call this search for the truth a "politically orchestrated campaign". I have updated this website - unfunded and without political interest - every day for over three years because the politicians not only refuse to face the responsibility for a terrible set of mistakes but - to cover these mistakes - seem determined to reject even now the humane, common sense measures that should have been taken. The parallels with Iraq are unmissable.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Owen Paterson: "I have absolutely no doubt that there was a cover-up. Many people in the countryside are still absolutely boiling about this - it will not go away."
Mr Paterson has also tabled questions about the fate of scientific test results taken on livestock at Waugh's farm at the time of the outbreak. ...... the test results do not appear to have been sent to the Anderson Inquiry.
..... Ben Bradshaw : "This is just a politically orchestrated campaign to try and put the blame for foot and mouth on the Government rather than on the farmer who was responsible through his criminal activity," he said..." Read in full
October 29 - November 4 ~ Missing Test results. It gets murkier
DEFRA maintains a loud silence over the video of Burnside. The original test results (reference) at Heddon on the Wall were deliberately removed from Dring's "memo" and never sent to the Lessons Learned inquiry. Nor was the video, eventually seen by MPs and other influential figures on October 21st 2004.
Those test results now seem crucial. Do the test results give a clear idea of when infection came to Burnside? What exactly are the discrepancies between what was said about the results and the results themselves? Were antibody positives included?
There are far too many unanswered questions in this whole matter. The tests could well show that Heddon on the Wall could not possibly have been the index case. (See also Dr Renton's words below) We hope in the near future to be able to shed more light on what level and age of infection was actually found at Mr Waugh's premises.
October 29 - November 4 ~ "... there seems very little movement by the Government to source this disease"
said the Ministry vet Dr Stuart Renton from Newcastle in April 2001 "... the infection was in sheep long before it surfaced at Heddon-on-the-Wall. And I hope you guys in the press get to the bottom of this...."
That the Government now considers the FMD outbreak to be "old news" will really not do. Too much was lost, too many lives were blighted for the truth not to matter. The heartless, arrogant government policy - one that has been defended ever since by its perpetrators - caused vital trust to be lost that shows no sign of being regained.
The video shown to MPs and others on Thursday 21 October 2004, shows dead sheep on the Burnside tip. A neighbouring farmer has apparently said that there were four dead sheep burnt on about January 20 2001and that these four sheep originated from Pontelands where the neighbouring farmer was treating his sheep for 'barley poisoning' - or was it FMD? Did the virus travel from Ponteland to Burnside rather than the other way around.?
In April 2001 Dr Renton said that he and his colleagues had come across old foot-and-mouth sores indicating the disease was present in sheep before February.
On April 28 2001 Maff 's spokeswoman claimed MAFF had never said the outbreak "definitely started" at Mr. Waugh's pig farm. "We only said it was the likely source and were not pointing fingers." Northern Echo Yet Mr Bradshaw now implies that Mr Waugh was to blame for the outbreak itself, as does the DEFRA "Origins" paper: "...the index case for the whole epidemic, is considered to have been a pig finishing unit at Burnside Farm, Heddon on the Wall." (See also warmwell chronology page)
October 29 - November 4 ~"It appears that no proper investigation into the events has ever been carried out and this video seems to confirm it"
Under the headline "HORROR FARM VIDEO CLAIMS" The Western Morning News reports that "... the video could bolster claims that failings in the regulatory system were partly responsible for the disastrous foot and mouth outbreak: "We believe certificates for this farm to continue feeding should never have been issued. It appears that no proper investigation into the events has ever been carried out and this video seems to confirm it."
...... In a report that was withheld from the official "lessons learned" inquiry by the Government, Mr Dring said the foot and mouth crisis "would never have come about" if his inspection of Waugh's farm in the weeks leading up to the outbreak had been "more rigorous".
........several farming experts who have seen the video (which was shot on February 23, 2001) believe the conditions shown are so appalling that Waugh's farm cannot possibly have been in a decent state at the time of the inspection. Any evidence that suggested Government negligence could encourage compensation claims from the thousands of businesses affected by the foot and mouth crisis. Although farmers whose animals were slaughtered were compensated, many others who faced draconian trading conditions were not. ....
... Opposition MPs have challenged the Government to reopen the inquiry.... Mr George, MP for St Ives, has written o the Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett, asking her to ensure Dr Anderson is shown the video and is allowed to comment on it. He said the video made it clear there had been a regulatory failure of some kind in relation to Waugh's farm. " read in full See also warmwell's pages on the Dring case and warmwell's view of the chronology of FMD 2001
October 29 - November 4 ~ The Daily Mirror (November 1) on Burnside video furore
Mirror "......Experts and MPs last night called for a probe into why government vet Jim Dring renewed farmer Bobby Waugh's licence despite the disgusting conditions when he visited in February 2001 - shortly before the #8billion outbreak. Lib-Dem agriculture spokesman Andrew George said: "I am shocked by the video and the conditions on the farm. The pressure for opening the file on this issue is now overwhelming." Read in full
October 29 - November 4 ~ Was the vet under pressure from the Ministry?" asked St Ives MP Andrew George
- "Were his actions being monitored?
- How did anything so patently dangerous pass official scrutiny?
If there is one thing that farming does not need, it is further intrusive regulation, but this demanded just clear regulation and common sense. Neither, it seems, was present in 2001.
- How can the Anderson Inquiry call itself the 'lessons learned' inquiry when these fundamental questions as to the epidemic's genesis have not even been addressed?"
No doubt the Government will prefer once more to turn its back on the problem, in the mistaken belief that lightning does not strike twice in the same place. As any rural dweller will tell them, it does. " Read in full
October 29 - November 4 ~ Defra (and the government) cannot have it both ways. It either knows or does not know the origin of FMD 2001
One of the sickening results of government bungling over FMD is that the swill feeders have taken the brunt of blame and lost their livelihoods. The government continues to imply that Bobby Waugh's swill feeding practices introduced the virus - never referring to the details of the trial nor to the licence granted to the farmer by MAFF itself and - even under pressure, weasling out of its failure to give the full facts to the Anderson Inquiry (see below).
Mr Bradshaw's answer to Mr Paice last week was; "The Conservatives continue with their historic attempt to deflect blame for the foot and mouth outbreak away from where it belongswith the farmer who was responsible for illegal and irresponsible practices."But, as we show below, there is a great deal of mystery surrounding the Heddon court case. The origin of the outbreak, DEFRA's report notwithstanding, has never come to light.
Mr Morley recently pointed out that the 2001 FMD crisis was "probably" caused by infected, illegally imported meat.
If the government believes it was infected meat, why do they sit on their hands over the question of illegal imports - so dangerous to human health? And why use the word "probably"? See Dirty Meat pages
October 29 - November 4 ~ A tale of two videos
See FWi article states that the distressing video was filmed on "Feb 24 2001 four days into the crisis and just four weeks after the farm's swill feeding licence was renewed by government agents." The FWi articlequotes Chris Price, a legal expert with the CLA who says,
"The video provides crucial evidence that the government through its agent the vet Jim Dring was negligent."The footage appalled all who saw it. Conditions at Burnside were certainly very nasty on February 24 2001- but we have been told that MAFF had taken sawdust normally used for bedding to make a disinfectant mat across the road. The pigs had been forcibly "bled" for analysis by means of wire nooses, had been dragged through the pens and were covered in pig-muck. They were desperately hungry and miserable - and responsibility for this would appear to be as much that of the officials as the vilified farmer.
October 29 - November 4 ~ Policy appears to be to trust that it will not happen again, and, if it does, to kill again, with the same callous indiscrimination.
"Now a video of Bobby Waugh's Burnside Farm has been released. Shot by Northumberland Trading Standards Department four days after the outbreak of foot and mouth, it is a record of unremitting squalor, bad husbandry and conditions in which any infection would thrive. Yet this was the farm to which Government vet Jim Dring granted a licence, this the farm in which the epidemic germinated...." The Western Morning News article on the video
October 29 - November 4 ~ April 29 2004 "I would be willing to give way now to the Minister if he wanted to rise to guarantee to the House that no other information has been withheld
and that Dr. Anderson received each and every piece of relevant information relating to the outbreak. I should be happy to give way if the Minister wished to do that, but I am afraid that the fact that he is not[Interruption.] Oh, he is.
Mr. Bradshaw: I have asked that question of officials and have been assured that that is the case.
Mrs. May: Well, we have had a lot of Ministers standing up to talk about what officials have or have not done. It is about time Ministers took responsibility for what happens in their Departments. .." Hansard
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ " Mr Dring was unable to recollect the exact contents of the barrels..."
The video presented as evidence by Castle Morpeth Trading Standards on day five of Bobby Waugh's trial purporting to show "24 barrels of unprocessed food waste" was - we have been told - not admitted as evidence. The defence solicitor, Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC, had invoices to show that the Waugh farm had been cleaned of waste 6 weeks before Trading Standards said they had video'd there. Judge Prowse had not allowed the evidence, saying the dates did not make sense. Surprisingly, the time discrepancy of the video and its implications seem to have raised not the slightest interest at the time.
In whose interests was it to film - long after the farm had been fully cleaned - drums of filthy, unprocessed waste adding credence to the theory that FMD must have originated on Bobby Waugh's farm as a result of unprocessed swill feeding ? The government were to let it be understood that Burnside Farm was the index case. That it was the index case has been widely assumed but never proved. During Bobby Waugh's trial, Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith's cross examination of witnesses, including Mr Jim Dring, raised doubts about the Maff vet's competence, his ability to recognise foot and mouth disease and the reliability of his evidence.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Mr Bradshaw's answers about the video raise more questions.
"My understanding is that the video contains nothing new. All of the details contained in the video, I am told, were given to the Anderson Inquiry. .... the video was part of the trial of Bobby Waugh."Could "all of the details contained in the video" - when some of those details were discredited at the trial - have been given to the Anderson Inquiry?
DEFRA's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" says " ... Bins of unprocessed waste food were present on Burnside Farm at the time of the MAFF VO visit on 23 February, some of which was in bins supposedly reserved exclusively for processed waste." The cross examination on day 5 of the trial would appear to cast doubt on this assertion.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Mr Waugh was asked how he believed the disease got into his herd
(trial notes) and he replied, "I don't know but its been in the sheep for a long time. I'd burned some sheep in my farm just prior to this that belonged to a friend of Mr Leadbitter." Sheep burned on Mr Waugh's tip originated from Ponteland, according to information passed to warmwell. On the 13th February 2001 sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, were found to be infected and it was assumed that Waugh's pigs were the source - but for several days at that time, the prevailing wind had been North Westerly. Dr Alex Donaldson's paper shows that it is unlikely that the relevant virus strain could have travelled in the air such a distance. The diseased sheep from Ponteland went to Hexham market where they mixed with other sheep and from there to Longtown market, where they mixed with others. Bobby Waugh may have been right; the virus may have travelled from Ponteland to Burnside farm and not the other way around. See also Chronology of FMD
April 2 2004 ~ "Mr Howard likened the (Dring) affair to the Government cover-ups over lax immigration controls which yesterday forced the resignation of Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes. "This is yet another example of a very familiar pattern with this Government," he said. "When something is put to them which is inconvenient first they deny it, then they try and cover it up and finally they have to admit it. We have just had it over Beverley Hughes and immigration. It is exactly the same thing." WMN See warmwell page on the Dring affair
March 18 (2004)~ email received today "....files contain Witness Statements made by Dring, Storey, Hind etc. Also, a form relating to the renewal of the licence, a verbal warning (given to Waugh's in connection with a lame pig) etc. If you read those files you will see that the 26 page report is untrue, with regard to 'documentation' and the fact that Dring's supervisor Andrew Hayward in Carlisle knew nothing of the problems at Burnside Farm. Also, internal memos and emails in files refer...we have the files..a press conference sometime next week...."
March 18 ~ An emailer writes "Just had a look at the Defra website - there is a press release dated 18 March relating to publication of James Dring statement. ....says that Defra and Anderson feel it would have been better for the minute (now being called minute - as opposed to memo) to have gone to the Inquiry - but that it wouldn't have made any difference. (well, they would say that)."
March 18 ~ Dring's memo (now put up on the DEFRA website) is 11,564 words in length. An "aide-memoire"? There are still contradictions surrounding the Waugh case - notwithstanding DEFRA Ministers' irritation at the temerity of the public in questioning their actions. In shed 3 there were 369 pigs. Not one of them had FMD according to Dring and Kitching, we have been told. If 369 out of 527 are negative then 88% is not right. But the test results are missing from the Dring statement. Mr Dring appears to have been effectively silenced at the time of both the trial and the Anderson Inquiry. Many thousands of people suffered as a result of the government's handling of the FMD crisis. They deserve to be told the truth.
March 17 ~ The front page of the Dring report - since last night, up on the DEFRA website - is missing. This is significant. Not merely because the front covering page says that the report was destined for the Anderson Inquiry but because DEFRA saw fit to remove that page, did not allow the statement to reach Lessons Learned and has rounded in ludicrous defensive attack on anyone who has been asking questions. It would appear that page 22 of the report is also missing. One wonders what happened to the spreadsheet of test results from Pirbright which, we understand, was originally attached to Dring's report.
March 16 ~ Did Jim Dring miss FMD at Burnside because of widespread PMWS/PDNS? We are told by an eminent veterinary authority that "PMWS/PDNS is so widespread that the veterinary input is more in terms of general advice about husbandry etc rather than certification" and that she "does not believe that there is any formal regular inspection requiring certification in England. It is not a notifiable disease." Interesting that we read in Mr Dring's statement "Certainly I saw no notifiable disease there before 22 February 2001, nor was it ever suggested to me that such was present."
March 13 ~ In the WMN article about the withheld Dring report, Peter Jinman (RCVS) talks about hindsight being a wonderful thing - just as Mrs Beckett and others have done. Hindsight may well be a wonderful thing but the comment is irrelevant when - right from the very start of the crisis - eminent scientists and vaccination experts were speaking up to try to prevent the ensuing catastrophe. This website, updated daily for the past three years, catalogues the fact that advice went unheeded and that lessons still have not been learned.
March 12 ~ " Why has it taken so long for this information to be made public?" asks The Journal, about the Dring evidence. ( but see warmwell page on the sequence of events at the start of the crisis) "According to Defra - now in charge of farming in this country - it was withheld to prevent prejudicing the trial of Mr Waugh, whose pig farm was traced as the start of the outbreak. It also kept the Government at arms length from blame until the issue was consigned to history. Not that Defra mentioned that in its statement...."
March 12 ~ The Mirror today "Yesterday, Lib-Dem Andrew George said the "narrow but critical issue" of his evidence was enough to justify the public inquiry previously rejected by ministers..." Mr George, for one, would refute the Journal's assumption that the issue has been "consigned to history" The Conservatives too, in their renewed call for an inquiry last week, said ".. There is now an urgent need for an investigation into why such damning evidence was not disclosed earlier."
March 8 ~ "There must be now full disclosure of all records, videos and notes from the first day of Dring's visit and all subsequent developments in relation to confirmation of disease,"writes an emailer, encouraged that the Conservative Party are reopening calls for a public inquiry into the FMD crisis. Dates and facts about Bobby Waugh's farm being assumed to be the index case are chronicled here. We note that Margaret Beckett has chosen this time to take a break from DEFRA and from any unwelcome questions. (See below)
March 8 ~ Mrs Beckett will be busy saving the globe for the next six weeks and has asked not to be disturbed. The Mail on Sunday reported: " .....Margaret Beckett has told officials she will not have time to handle anything in her in-tray for nearly two months ... Mrs Beckett will be away on a series of holidays and trips including 'Save the Globe' summits in New York, Australia and New Zealand."
Chronology of Beginning of FMD Outbreak
Chronology. Sick pigs, sick sheep and who were the Scapegoats?"although it was politically convenient to identify pig swill as the cause of the epidemic (the government would later introduce severe restrictions on feeding swill to pigs), no proof that this was the original infectious agent was ever produced." (Private Eye's Not the Foot and Mouth Report)
What follows is warmwell's own compilation of the sequence of events, taken from sources that are considered reliable.
On 24th January 2001 Bobby Waugh's farm was visited by a MAFF vet, Jim Dring, accompanied by a Trading Standards officer, for a routine inspection. There were 114 pig pens on the farm of which 5 pens were examined and declared satisfactory. Dr Paul Kitching, in his evidence to the EU, mentioned "..the index case in the UK which had involved 500 adult pigs infected for at least 3 weeks" If he is right, then pigs at Burnside were incubating the disease from the last week in January. On the 13th February, sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, became infected and it was assumed that Waugh's pigs were the source - but for several days at that time, the prevailing wind had been North Westerly. Alex Donaldson's paper shows that it is unlikely that the relevant virus strain could have travelled in the air such a distance. The diseased sheep from Ponteland went to Hexham market where they mixed with other sheep and from there to Longtown market, where they mixed with others. On 15th February 2001 pigs from Bobby Waugh's farm were taken by lorry to Cheale Meats abattoir in Essex. They were slaughtered on Friday the 16th. At the weekend, the pigs from the Isle of Wight and Buckinghamshire arrived. On 19 February 2001, Craig Kirby an official veterinary surgeon working for the government's Meat Hygiene Service at the abattoir saw blisters on pigs from the Isle of Wight and Buckinghamshire, which had arrived at the lairage at the weekend, and suspected FMD. The following day, tests at Pirbright officially confirmed that this was indeed foot-and-mouth. It was decided to inspect Burnside Farm. A five mile exclusion zone was established around Bobby Waugh's farm on 23 February 2001 when FMD was pronounced (by Mr Dring) to be in the pigs. 19th February When being informed by telephone that a disease had been confirmed at the slaughter house, Mr Waugh was told that his own pigs had passed the inspection of the official vet at the abattoir and had been duly slaughtered on Friday, the 16th February. He was then telephoned again the next day, 20 February, and told that the disease was FMD. (See account of trial by Bruce Jobson) February 2001 At Heddon on the Wall, pigswill was collected and prepared by Bobby's neighbour, Jimmy Brown, who also fed the same swill to his own pigs. Mr Brown's pigs were not infected.
However, after FMD was confirmed at Burnside, they were slaughtered too as Dangerous Contacts. CNN reported: " The UK's Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) said investigators trying to trace the source of the potentially devastating livestock disease were concentrating on a pig farm in Northumberland, in northern England. "
On February 23 the MAFF vet, Jim Dring, told Mr Waugh that his pigs had been infected for the past four weeks. He replied: "Well, that puts you right in it, Jim. You were here 4 weeks ago, why didn't you find it then?"
In the report that has just come to light, Mr Dring refers to his inspection "a mere ten days before foot and mouth virus was introduced into this pig herd." It is hard to see how he could have been so certain of the date.
March 21 ~ The Today Programme interviewed Fran Talbot, whose husband ran a timber company at Wootton in Staffordshire, who reported that she had been called by MAFF at the beginning of February. Another timber merchant, Mike Littlehales, of Seighford, near Stafford, had had a similar call from MAFF, asking whether he could "supply timber in case of foot-and-mouth", because they had wanted to"update their records". When two weeks later the first outbreaks were reported on the news, Mr Littlehales recalled saying to his wife "that seems very strange, that lady phoning me up a couple of weeks ago about the timber for foot-and-mouth. I wonder if they already knew then"
When challenged about the fact that MAFF officials had contacted a timber merchant in Stafford inquiring about the availability of railway sleepers for funeral pyres for foot-and-mouth infected carcasses, Nick Brown said the notion that the government had known about the existence of FMD before February 19th was an "urban legend" (Hansard) He asserted
"Ministers, were not aware that the infectivity was present in the country for an earlier time period for the simple reason that it was not."But Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge) persisted
"... a MAFF spokesman who said today:
"From time to time we do emergency planning exercises. We are not aware if this was one of those cases."
Can the right hon. Gentleman understand that it is deeply worrying when MAFF officials say that there may be a planning exercise going on, but they are not sure? The very person they approached about railway sleepers says that the last time he was approached was 1967. That raises suspicions and mere abuse about Martians does not answer them." (Hansard)
27 March 2001 every news organization in the UK was reporting that Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown, was expected to announce a possible link between the start of Foot and Mouth disease and pigswill from a Chinese restaurant. The Times suggested pigswill from a Chinese restaurant, using illegally imported meat carrying the virus, had been given to pigs on a farm at Heddon-on-theWall. The story was not denied by MAFF. The Times later claimed the source was "someone close to the agriculture minister, Nick Brown"
1,000 chanting Chinese protesters from all over the country descended on the MAFF's Westminster' headquarters demanding an apology. The Minister, holding a megaphone to be heard over the din, shouted reassurance to the protesters and issued a categorical denial. This was followed with a #20,000 payout of compensation. The Times story has disappeared from the internet but the URL remains http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2-105434,00.html
April 2001 Dr Stuart Renton, a ministry vet in Newcastle said that he and his colleagues had come across old foot-and-mouth sores indicating the disease was present in sheep before February : "Long-standing foot-and-mouth lesions are being found in sheep nationally, indicating the disease was probably present before the initial outbreak in Heddon. We are still getting pockets of infection in sheep which we cannot trace back to Heddon."
Following Dr Renton's remarks, on April 28 2001 Maff 's spokeswoman claimed MAFF had never said the outbreak "definitely started" at Mr. Waugh's pig farm. "We only said it was the likely source and were not pointing fingers." Northern Echo
When (14th May 2002) Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Lord Whitty "Whether the tests for foot and mouth disease carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs veterinarians in February 2001 at Mr Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, were positive or negative; and whether the results of those tests have been made public.[HL4130]" Lord Whitty replied "The results of the tests for foot and mouth virus in February 2001 at Bobby Waugh's farm are likely to form part of the evidence at the current trial."
The question - even now - does not seem to have been answered. Mr Waugh was given the "A" form to signify an infected premises by Mr Dring on Friday morning, after a telephone conversation between Mr Dring and London (sic) confirmed FMD on the premises. (see notes on the trial) The form had been signed and dated by Mr Hine, a third MAFF official, on the previous day.
The same reason of pre-trial confidentiality was given by DEFRA to explain why Mr Dring's signed statement was not processed by the Anderson Inquiry. This too is a question that now needs to be addressed.
Additional comments from Private Eye's Not the Foot and Mouth Report
"....On January 31 2001, Hugues Inizan, a Breton-born dealer living near Plymouth, used the 'farmers' ferry' to transport 402 sheep from around Abergavenny, Crickhowell and Builth Wells in south and mid-Wales to Normandy. After the first reports of foot-and-mouth in Britain, Marc Nozin, a French farmer who had bought half the sheep, asked the French authorities to test them. Seven of 31 sheep sampled showed up as 'highly positive' for foot-and-mouth. On March 7 all the animals on M.Nozin's farm were slaughtered. Yet these were sheep which had been transported to France, with health certificates signed by Welsh Assembly vets, nearly three weeks before FMD was officially identified....
...circumstantial evidence increasingly suggested that the epidemic had not originated at Heddon at all; that foot-and-mouth had probably been around for months before it infected the Waughs' pigs; and that the species initially infected had been sheep, in which the signs of FMD are often hard to detect."
"The condition of Mr Waugh's pigs in mid-February does not explain how at least two shipments of sheep in January from Brecon and Ross-on- Wye to France bore foot-and-mouth antibodies before the outbreak officially began. 31 sheep were tested. 21 of those sheep proved negative, but 10 proved positive, with 7 testing highly positive. Maff suggested it was possible the French tests produced a false result." (This was strongly denied by the French at the time.)
"Although MAFF continued to refer to the Waugh's pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall as the original source of the outbreak, it was never able to produce conclusive evidence to support this. For political purposes it was convenient to identify Burnside farm as the source, not least because it was an intensive pig unit which had aroused intense criticism on both hygiene and welfare grounds (MAFF was eventually to bring a series of criminal charges against the Waughs, for the way they had allegedly run their 'dirty farm').
....There was equally no evidence to support the view, also fostered by MAFF, that the pigs had become infected by eating swill containing contaminated meat imported from abroad, obtained either from Chinese restaurants in Newcastle, or from a nearby British army barracks. The Albemarle barracks did use meat from Uruguay (a country with FMD), under EU procurement rules which require the British army to buy meat from the cheapest, usually non-British sources. But although it was politically convenient to identify pig swill as the cause of the epidemic (the government would later introduce severe restrictions on feeding swill to pigs), no proof that this was the original infectious agent was ever produced"
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/content_objectid=14042701_method=full_siteid=50143_headline=-OUTBREAK-PROBE-CALL-name_page.htmlOUTBREAK PROBE CALL
Mar 12 2004
A VET'S admission he could have prevented foot-and-mouth in 2001 should lead to a public inquiry, an MP said yesterday.
In a memo leaked last week, Jim Dring said the outbreak "would never have come about" if his inspection of the farm where it started had been better.
Yesterday Lib-Dem Andrew George said the "narrow but critical issue" of his evidence was enough to justify the public inquiry previously rejected by ministers.
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said while Mr Dring's memo was not submitted to the Anderson inquiry into the outbreak, the issues it raised were discussed.
She added it would be "wholly wrong" to say Mr Dring was "responsible".
May 31 2002 ~ Waugh verdict..."Several hardened journalists were stunned."
".....there appeared to be not only several inaccuracies contained within his ruling but also several inconsistencies."
The verdict given yesterday at Bedlington Magistrates Court appears to many to be utterly inexplicable. As Bruce Jobson writes, " The graphic video footage that has been aired on television tonight was taken on Saturday 24th February. In his own defence, Bobby stated that his pigs were "desperate" by that day. However, on Friday 23rd, MAFF had used Bobby's sawdust to make a disinfectant mat across the road and prevented him from bedding up his pigs. The pigs had been "bled" for analysis, dragged through the pens and were covered in pig-muck. The pigs had been fed unprocessed swill on Friday evening on the direction of Jim Dring - and no one criticises him on that in the circumstances - but the following day - Saturday - the video was taken showing the pigs covered in muck, "desperate" and unprocessed swill left lying in the troughs. The swill was undoubtedly left in the troughs because the pigs weren't used to eating uncooked swill. And any person that has worked with farm animals realises that you cannot stop, chop and change diets. Animals lose weight. And Bobby was in the business of fattening pigs.
However, the video taken on 24th February, did not reflect the welfare and conditions of the animals on Thursday 22nd February. The video gave a false or worse, impression of what conditions were like on Burnside Farm at the time of the alleged offence...." (See more)
May 31 2002 ~ "... trial revealed severe weaknesses in the Government's provisions against foot-and-mouth. "
"....Though the guilty verdicts shoulder Waugh with some responsibility for the devastating epidemic, the trial has also shown up the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, whose sensitivity to accusations of poor preparation for foot-and-mouth has led it to resist all calls for a full public inquiry and to refuse to testify at three inquiries set up by rural county councils.
The case has revealed a depleted number of northern ministry vets were unfamiliar with foot-and-mouth's symptoms. It has also shown how Waugh slipped through the net of frequent veterinary inspections.....Today's Independent
May 28 2002 ~ Mr Hall stated that neither he, nor Mr Waugh, had ever fed unprocessed swill prior to Friday 23rd February.
Mr Hall said he had only fed unprocessed swill on 23rd February after MAFF vet Jim Dring had given authorisation. From the trial of Bobby Waugh, day 12. It is looking less and less likely that Heddon on the Wall can possibly have been the FMD Index case (if anyone still believes this to be the case) . Final submissions on behalf of the Defence and Prosecution will be given on Tuesday 28th May.
May 11 ~ 'Call me a liar if you like' (Mr James Dring said in Court)
An onlooker at the trial reports that James Dring the MAFF vet at the trial of Bobby Waugh (see below) was "very arrogant and he hardly needed to say that. The QC had already tripped him up."
Why would a MAFF vet fail to report low standards? an email recieved this morning:
"I was wondering why a MAFF vet would fail to report low standards of animal welfare. There are dozens of similar cases going back three years. The Lord Carter affair, the one in Scotland (the Scotpigs incident involving "King" Arthur Simmers) and many many others. You could suggest "backhanders" or influence, but that would hardly ring true with Waugh. The stories are all similar - videos of dead pigs, poor hygiene, cannibalism. No action ever taken.
Then it stuck me. I know MAFF were covering up a series of epidemics in the indoor pig herds, presumably for fear of a health scare. What the videos were showing was the effects of illness and, sometimes inadequate efforts to handle the consequences. If they had pressed a prosecution, the balloon might have gone up. The situation that developed at Waugh's meant they had no option but to prosecute."
May 11 2002 ~" I look to "Farming Today" to provide informed comment - not ..spell out the DEFRA official version...in simple terms"
Mark Holdstock reported on the trial of Bobby Waugh this morning (Farming today) and we have received a copy of this email sent to the BBC by a worried listener..
"His report was disappointing because it seemed to retail simplified highlights of the case for the prosecution, without informed critical analysis".. ..(The Waugh premises had been) "inspected by a MAFF vet and deemed satisfactory on 24th January, ONE MONTH earlier. He (Mark Holdstock) picked out as particularly significant, a statement made by James Dring... "The reason that we had foot and mouth in this country is that I did not know enough about what the Waughs were doing on their farm. I know now." ..... The credibility given to his statements must be set against his need to protect himself against questions of negligence or incompetence. His competence to speculate about "the reason that we had foot and mouth in this country" must be measured against his performance as a farm inspector. I have been surprised to read subsequently in a report of the proceedings that "Mr Dring also confirmed that he had authorised Mr Waugh to feed his pigs on unprocessed swill on Friday 23rd of February, as the pigs were subsequently due to be slaughtered over the weekend." and that "The video of the pigs and the cutlery within the pig pens was taken on the following day, Saturday 24th February." ...(See more)
May 11 2002 ~ Waugh crimes? MAFF vet admits he'd passed farm as satisfactory and authorised use of unprocessed swill
"..several details of interest have gone unreported..... Of particular interest was the lengthy cross-examination by Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC of MAFF vet Mr Jim Dring. From a practical farming point of view, Mr Dring's evidence came under close-scrutiny in relation to the licensing of Mr Waugh's premises. Burnside had received its annual licence inspection by Mr Dring on 24th January 2001 and received its official renewal on 30th January 2001.
Having seen the video evidence the previous day and the extremely untidy state of Burnside Farm, Mr Dring was continually requested by Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith, to explain how he had continued to licence the premises, and to explain how he had continued to file his six-monthly reports, over a number of many years, by 'ticking' the box marked, 'Satisfactory' ... Mr Stuart-Smith went through the various requirements of the licensing procedure that Mr Dring had continued to mark as being, 'Satisfactory' . Mr Dring also confirmed that it wasn't unusual to find cutlery and crockery in pig pens, especially where the animals were fed on a (processed) swill-fed diet. Mr Dring also confirmed that he had authorised Mr Waugh to feed his pigs on unprocessed swill on Friday 23rd of February, as the pigs were subsequently due to be slaughtered over the weekend. ..".(report)Bobby Waugh's Trial Bruce Jobson's account May 25 2002
Many thanks for all the comments regarding the proceedings of the Bobby Waugh trial especially, those received from farming, agricultural and overseas contacts.
One point that should be clarified (as I am continually asked) and would therefore like to confirm, that officials from Northumberland County Council and Trading Standards have conducted themselves in an impeccable manner throughout the trial. This also refers to the testimony of several of the Trading Standards Animal Health Officers involved with the trial.
At 2.22pm, Wednesday 22nd May, Bobby Waugh took the witness stand at Bedlington Magistrates Court.
Jeremy Stuart-Smith (JSS) opened the defence case by inviting Mr Waugh to establish his credibility as a pig farmer. Mr Waugh stated that he had been around pigs 'ever since I could walk' and having left school at the age of 15, became involved with the family business run by his father and elder-brother, Ronnie.
When questioned by JSS as to whether Mr Waugh had ever reported a disease in his pigs to the authorities, Mr Waugh replied that he had notified Durham MAFF of Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD) being present in his herd during 1974. Mr Waugh stated that the pigs were checked by the MAFF and tests were taken the following day, Saturday. According to Mr Waugh, Durham Trading Standards had later phoned and stated everything was satisfactory with the pigs.
However, on the following Tuesday, Mr Waugh's pigs were confirmed as having SVD (For those of a non-agricultural background, the signs and symptoms of SVD are indistinguishable from that of FMB) For the benefit of the court, Mr Waugh produced a 30-year-old MAFF leaflet showing photographs of pigs infected with SVD.
Questioned as to whether he would have reported FMD in his pigs before the 22nd February 2001, Mr Waugh said,"Yes, I would have no reason not to because I wouldn't gain anything financially. I wouldn't get anywhere, I'd just end-up with a farm full of lame pigs."
Mr Waugh claimed that his pigs appeared healthy and were eating normally during the days running up to the discovery of FMD on his farm. He said that he usually arrived at Burnside Farm at 9am and always checked round the pigs prior to carrying out his feeding routine.
JSS questioned Mr Waugh as to whether his pigs were ill on the 22nd February 2001 and he replied, "No. Everything was feeding normally. They're healthy when feeding". Mr Waugh explained that it was his normal working practice to 'double-feed' his pigs on the previous day (Wednesday 21st) as it was his normal routine to attend Darlington Mart on Thursday. As his pipeline system was still frozen, this task was performed by bucket-feeding the swill over the wall of the pig pens and into the troughs.
JSS said that despite Dr Kitching's expertise the previous day, Dr Kitching was unable to assist the court with the actual gestation period of a sow. Mr Waugh replied, "112-days."
(Thanks for everyone round the world - especially former-agricultural students for making contact on that one - yes, the standard, "Three months-three weeks-three days)
Questioned on lameness and lesions within pig herds, Mr Waugh replied that it was a common feature amongst swill-fed units due to the abrasive concrete flooring and troughs. According to Mr Waugh, pigs could be seen with lesions everyday at local auction markets and outdoor pigs could get snout lesions by digging into the ground.
Mr Waugh explained that he collected swill from local schools and English and Italian restaurants in the area. The swill was poured into or augured into boiling tanks at neighbouring Heddon View Farm and cooked at 93.3c for a period of four hours. The swill was then bailed into barrels and taken down to Burnside Farm (approx. 45 metres by road from farm-to-farm) Mr Waugh confirmed that his swill pipeline system often froze during the winter months and rather than spend time thawing the system out on a daily-basis, preferred to feed his pigs by bucketing the swill into the trough. The cutlery contained within the cooked-swill entered the pens via that route.
Mr Waugh confirmed that his premises had been inspected on 24th January 2001 by MAFF vet Jim Dring. The inspection had taken approximately one hour and included examination of the pigs, plant, tanks, pumps and farmyard premises. Asked whether Mr Dring had checked the pens, Mr Waugh replied, "Yes." Asked whether pieces of cutlery were in the pens at the time of Mr Dring's inspection, Mr Waugh confirmed that on average 3 or 4 items were in each pen, although some would have more.
Mr Waugh confirmed that the (open) fire and waste-heap on the premises had been present on Burnside Farm prior to his occupancy and that Mr Dring knew of its presence. Mr Waugh was asked whether the fire and waste heap had changed in appearance and he replied the area was "four-times bigger by the time MAFF had been there."
Proceedings finished at 4.20pm
The trial of Bobby Waugh resumed at 10.05am, Thursday 23rd May at Bedlington Magistrates Court, Northumberland.
Jeremy Stuart-Smith continued the defence by inviting Mr Waugh to explain his association with Cheale Meats. Mr Waugh confirmed that the Waugh's had supplied the Essex-based abattoir with pigs for the past 15 years. The Waugh's had sent pigs to Cheale Meats on Thursday 15th February and on Monday 19th February, Mr Waugh received a phone call from Andrew Cheale stating that the premises had been closed down owing to a case of SVD being identified in a group of pigs that had arrived over the weekend from Buckingham and the Isle of Wight.
Mr Waugh was told there was nothing to be concerned about as his pigs had passed the required veterinary inspection on Friday. The following day, Tuesday, 20th February, Mr Waugh received another phone call from Cheale Meats in which he was informed that the disease had been confirmed by MAFF as FMD and not SVD. Mr Waugh told the court he was not concerned at that stage as the outbreak had occured 300 miles away in Essex.
On Wednesday 23rd February, Mr Waugh received a telephone call from MAFF vet Jim Dring in which he was informed of the disease being present at Cheale Meats and as a close-contact with the abattoir, requested that MAFF inspect his premises at Burnside Farm. Mr Waugh told the court that he had invited Mr Dring to inspect his pigs that very day and offered to meet Mr Dring, "Right now." Mr Dring didn't accept Mr Waugh's invitation.
Later that day, Mr Dring arranged an appointment following a telephone conversation with Mr Waugh's sister for the next day, Thursday, 22nd February at 2pm. Mr Waugh had anticipated going to Darlington on Thursday morning and said he would be back at Burnside between 12 and 1pm.
JSS asked Mr Waugh whether he would have noticed any of the symptoms in his pigs as described by Dr Kitching in his evidence. Mr Waugh confirmed that he would have noticed the symptoms but his pigs showed no sign of having the disease and they were feeding normally. The pigs were still eating and not lethargic.
Mr Waugh said he was still unconcerned about having the disease as Cheale Meats was a considerable distance away from Burnside Farm and stated, "My pigs went to Cheale Meats on the 16th - I think there were 38 on the 15th (time of leaving) and nothing was lame. They all went onto the top deck of the wagon. There was nothing wrong with the pigs."
Mr Waugh did not attend Darlington Mart as planned owing to the exportation-ban being imposed and instead went to Burnside Farm to wait for Mr Dring. Mr Waugh said he fed sows and generally worked around the premises.
At 2pm, Mr Dring and Mr Storey arrived, whilst a third MAFF official, Mr Hine, visited Mr Brown's premises at Heddon View. According to Mr Waugh, Mr Storey drew a plan of the buildings whilst Mr Waugh accompanied Mr Dring into Shed 2 and not as Mr Dring claimed, Shed 1. Mr Dring checked every pen and every pig including snouts in Shed 2 and said to Mr Waugh, "Nothing to worry about there."
Mr Waugh and Mr Dring entered Shed 3. According to Mr Waugh there was very little to be concerned about and in one pen found a pig with a loose nail but no blisters. Mr Dring asked Mr Waugh for permission to kill a smaller pig in the same pen. Mr Waugh agreed to the request. The pig was then hung on the wall in order that Mr Dring could look into the dead animal's mouth.
Mr Waugh claims that Mr Dring was uncertain about identifying FMD and said if a blood-sample were to be taken it would have to be sent to London. Mr Waugh replied that, "If it had to be sent to London, it had to be sent to London." Mr Hine arrived at Burnside Farm from Heddon View and assisted the proceedings and further blood-samples were taken from pigs in pen 14 and 16.
Mr Waugh stated that MAFF officials used cruel methods in order to obtain samples by using a wire-noose that went round the pig's head and into the mouth and proceeded to drag the struggling pigs a distance of 20 metres to the front of the pens (through the faeces) to be blood-sampled.
According to Mr Waugh, the temperatures of the pigs had been taken and he was informed that they were, "Normal."JSS asked Mr Waugh whether Mr Dring and Mr Storey did anything else that day and Mr Waugh stated that Mr Storey wanted to inject another pig in order to "Slow it down." Mr Waugh agreed and further samples were taken including a nose tissue sample that had to be removed by the use of pliers by Mr Dring.
Mr Waugh stated he was only given the "C" form that day, and not an "A" form as suggested by Mr Dring. According to Mr Waugh, he was given the "A" form (notification of an infected premises) by Mr Dring at 10.30am the following day, Friday, after a telephone conversation between Mr Dring and London confirming FMD on the premises, although, both forms had been signed and dated by Mr Hine on the previous day.
After the telephone call confirming confirmation of FMD, Mr Dring asked if Mr Waugh had any cooked-swill on the premises. Mr Waugh informed Mr Dring that he hadn't had any cooked-swill as Mr Waugh had been unable to get out and cook the swill on Thursday at Mr Brown's farm. Mr Waugh had pig-meal on farm and, knowing he was unable to visit Mr Brown's uninfected premises on Friday morning, had already ordered meal from Stokesley following confirmation of FMD. According to Mr Waugh, Mr Dring queried his actions on ordering meal to which Mr Waugh replied, "I thought we were talking FMD here, Jim."
Mr Dring asked if any (un-cooked) unprocessed-swill was on the premises. Mr Waugh confirmed that unprocessed swill was on the concrete apron outside the premises and had not been able to be transported to Heddon View on Thursday due to the MAFF visit. Mr Dring suggested that Mr Waugh feed the unprocessed-swill to the pigs. According to Mr Waugh, he questioned this action but was informed that it would not matter as his pigs were all going to be killed due to FMD.
According to Mr Waugh's testimony, he accompanied Mr Dring to Shed 2 and whilst in that building, Mr Dring stated that "this pig has had it for 4 weeks, this one for
three weeks, this one for two weeks." Mr Waugh replied, "Well, that puts you right in it, Jim. You were here 4 weeks ago, why didn't you find it then?" Mr Waugh alleges that Mr Dring then changed his opinion and said, "this one has had it two weeks, this one for two weeks."
Mr Waugh was requested by Mr Dring to nominate an auctioneer as valuer for compensation purposes and requested Mr Thompson from Thirsk. Despite numerous attempts to contact Mr Thompson at the mart and by mobile phone, Mr Waugh had to abandon his initial suggestion. According to Mr Waugh, Mr Dring suggested an auctioneer from Ponteland Mart but this was unacceptable to Mr Waugh as he said that particular auctioneer had little or no experience in valuing 'finished-pigs'. Mr Waugh stated, "This would be like getting a coal-man to value your antiques."
Later that morning, another auctioneer from Hexham Mart, Mr Whitlock telephoned Mr Waugh and asked if FMD had been confirmed at Burnside Farm. Mr Waugh offered Mr Whitlock the task of valuing the pigs that were due to be slaughtered.
Mr Waugh continued with his evidence on Thursday 24th MAY. Mr Waugh is also charged with recording keeping offences in relation to two pig movements onto Burnside Farm.
JSS asked Mr Waugh as to the date that two pigs were delivered to Burnside Farm by Mr Dunn. Mr Waugh informed the court that the pigs arrived on Sunday Jan 7th and not 14th January as the prosecution had claimed. Mr Waugh produced his chequebook for the benefit of the court. Mr Waugh confirmed his brother Ronnie always wrote the cheques and that the writing on the chequebook stub, was that of Ronnie Waugh. Mr Dunn gave Ronnie Waugh the pig movement license and he proceeded to put the license into his pocket and would normally have subsequently given the license to his sister to record in the movement book.
JSS asked Bobby Waugh who should have taken steps to ensure that the appropriate documentation had been accurately recorded. Mr Waugh replied, "Ronnie, but he was bad (ill) at the time and had been bad before (this) - with cancer." Bobby Waugh confirmed that the license was later found in Ronnie Waugh's pocket.
After a short recess, the court resumed at 11.45am. JSS asked Mr Waugh what he would normally use to bed-up his pigs and he replied, "Sawdust." Mr Waugh said that he was unable to bed-up his pigs between February 22nd and February 24th. Asked what effect that would have on the conditions of his pigs, Mr Waugh relied that "this would make the pigs dirty and the floor would be slippy."
Mr Waugh confirmed that Mr Dring had asked if he could use Mr Waugh's sawdust on the morning of Friday 23rd February in order to make a disinfectant-mat across the road. Mr Waugh said he wanted to bed his pigs but agreed to Mr Dring's request. (On Saturday 24th February Trading Standards officers took video-evidence of the pigs and the dirty conditions of the pens.This evidence and conditions that the pigs were kept under was produced in court at the beginning of the trial)
Mr Waugh said that he had never been cruel to his pigs and had never allowed a stick to be used on the farm (in order to move pigs) and had never fed unprocessed swill to his animals except on Friday 23rd February.
At 12.12am, Mr Paddy Cosgrove cross-examined Mr Waugh on behalf of the prosecution.
Mr Cosgrove opened his cross-examination in a ferocious manner by stating Mr Waugh had lied at the time by deliberately failing to notify MAFF officials and had continued to lie since, and had lied under oath. Mr Waugh replied to Mr Cosgrove's repeated allegations about Mr Waugh lying by stating to Mr Cosgrove, "You're the one that's lying."
Mr Cosgrove stated that Mr Waugh knew his animals were infected and deliberately failed to notify officials of the disease. Mr Waugh denied the allegations. Mr Waugh denied allegations about feeding unprocessed swill to his pigs by stating "It's not worth it. Trading Standards can walk in anytime and inspect the premises and so can MAFF. I've always boiled swill."
Mr Cosgrove questioned Mr Waugh as to the state of pig farming and suggested that Mr Waugh had fed unprocessed swill in order to save money. Mr Waugh denied the allegation and stated that he bought his own fuel and that it cost him #120 per week to cook swill at Heddon View Farm.
Mr Cosgrove suggested that Mr Waugh could have used a pumping system and hose-pipe to operate the swill extraction process at Heddon View but Mr Waugh said that the system required two people to operate and Mr Waugh was often on his own. He therefore preferred to bail the processed-swill into drums, take it to Burnside Farm and bucket-fed his pigs. No matter which system used, Mr Waugh still had to transport the swill to Burnside.
At 3.45pm, JSS re-examined Mr Waugh's evidence.
Mr Waugh was asked how he believed the disease got into his herd and replied, "I don't know but its been in the sheep for a long time. I'd burned some sheep in my farm just prior to this that belonged to a friend of Mr Leadbitter."
Proceedings ended at 4pm.
Bruce Jobson - 25th May 2002
From warmwell's front page http://www.warmwell.com ..
March 2 - 6 2004 ~ renewed demands for compensation from the Government and for a full public inquiry into the outbreak...."
" A flood of compensation claims against Defra, especially from the 62 pig-swill feeders who lost their businesses after a ban on the practice, is now certain." Valerie Elliott in the Times calls the Dring story "an extraordinary development" and says "Mr Dring's confession may never have been disclosed to the inquiry fuelling suspicion that the paper may have been suppressed...
The admission has renewed demands for compensation from the Government and for a full public inquiry into the outbreak...." Read in full
March 2 - 6 ~ the admission would strengthen the case for legal action
".... Mr Dring, now a DEFRA vet, wrote: "... at a time when illicit feeding practices were clearly in train and had been for some time, I inspected this (sic) premises with a view to renewing the Waughs' Article 26 licence."Like other pig farmers using swill, the Waughs received a letter from MAFF on September 17, 1998, which warned of an "increased risk of the introduction of the strain to the EU...You will be aware that the strict controls on the processing and feeding of waste to pigs are specifically to prevent the introduction of epidemics." and yet MAFF did not ban the use of slops - the very thing, it implied, might spread the disease.
"Had this inspection been more rigorous than it was, had the licence not been renewed, or renewed only subject to radical revision of the Waugh's patently deficient feeding technique, then this awful 2001 FMD epidemic would never have come about," he wrote.
Lynda Davies, national co-ordinator of the Association of Swill Users, said the admission would strengthen the case for legal action against MAFF/DEFRA... " Read in full
See also Jason Podmore case and http://www.warmwell.com/nov25persey.html
March 14 - 20 2004 ~ Mr Bradshaw's words during the Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday raise more questions.
Mr Bradshaw stated publicly on February 5th 2004 in the House of Commons that "swill feeding was identified as the source of the FMD outbreak".
He is aware of the case against DEFRA being brought to the High Court by Staffordshire pig farmer Jason Podmore. Conditions noted at Burnside Farm should have made the renewal of Mr Waugh's licence unthinkable - but all was ticked as "satisfactory". (This is hardly unusual. The notorious Scotpigs operation owned by Arthur Simmers has been far worse and is only now being closed down as a result - not of outrage at the cruelty, dirt and disease - but simply because of large debts.)
Robert Persey's notes emphasise that ".. Jim Dring failed to fulfil his regulatory responsibilities under the Animal By Products Order 1999" Our questions now include:
Brian Friend, who is giving legal representation to Jason Podmore, said that Ministers tried to put the blame for foot and mouth on farmers who fed swill to pigs. 62 swill feeders have lost their livelihoods without compensation. Although possible, there has never been any evidence presented to the public to prove that swill caused the FMD outbreak. It is not Mr Dring, one of a dwindling number of overstretched SVS vets whose morale has been notoriously sapped by systematic government cuts, who is being held responsible for incompetence by any press reports; it is the Ministry. To say so publicly, as does the independent newspaper the Western Morning News, can hardly be termed "misleading and mischievous". These words might seem more appropriate to the dodging and weaving of the authorities in their efforts to avoid a public inquiry.
- If "dangerous and illegal activity" (As Mr Bradshaw said in the debate) refers to Mr Waugh's practices, why, after the annual inspection for 'The Holding Premises Licence' under The Animal By-Products Order 1999, was Mr Waugh's Article 26 licence renewed?
- When was the full text of Mr Dring's statement put on the DEFRA website? Before or after the time of the Anderson Inquiry (Spring/Summer 2002)? If before, then the "concern" which "centred on putting material into the public domain before it had been dealt with in court" (BBC) was just as valid and putting it in the public domain on the DEFRA website was just as likely to be prejudicial to the Bobby Waugh case. If after, just how recently did it appear?*(Why is page 22 of the statement apparently missing?) *We see from Mr Bradshaw's words in the Hansard report that he put it up only yesterday.
- Why would a vet's mere "aide-memoire" or "notes he made for himself"- as Mrs Beckett described it last week - be posted on the DEFRA website and published in the Commons, yet deemed by DEFRA's departmental lawyers "not material" to an inquiry?
March 14 - 20 2004 ~ Ben Bradshaw forgets that it was Mr Dring himself who implied that he was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak
Minister Defends Vet over Foot-and-Mouth Accusations and BBCFoot-and-mouth vet 'not to blame'
".... Junior environment minister Ben Bradshaw condemned as "misleading and mischievous" press reporting of an official document in which Jim Dring said he should have performed a more rigorous inspection of a Northumberland farm, later identified as source of the epidemic.
Mr Bradshaw said: "To suggest that Mr Dring was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak, as some have sought to, is like saying that a police officer who misses a piece of evidence at the scene of a crime is responsible for that crime rather than the criminal himself,"
The minister announced he had published the full text of Mr Dring's testimony in the Commons, as well as on the Defra website. "Far from showing any incompetence on Mr Dring's or the, then, Agriculture Ministry's part, I believe it shows a dedicated and conscientious vet dealing with some very difficult customers who went out of their way to conceal dangerous and illegal activity on their farm," he said. ....."
March 14 - 20 2004 ~ Bobby Waugh was told to sign the Official Secrets Act
The article from the Evening Chronicle (June 2001), from which this extract came, has since disappeared from the internet
"A 12 page Ministry of Agriculture contract, dated June 4 and leaked to the Chronicle, details the agreement, which could pay Mr Waugh #10,000 in clean-up compensation. But to begin the clean-up procedure - which almost every other foot and mouth infected farm has been allowed within days of its animals being culled - Mr Waugh must abide by Clause 17 of the contract.On June 13 2001 the Government backed down from a move to force all farmers affected by the foot and mouth outbreak to sign the Official Secrets Act. Why did it want them to in the first place? Government vets certainly did have to sign - as the Times revealed on January 31st 2002. It may also be remembered that DEFRA official, Bryan Munro, made to sign the OSO, broke it in order to reveal "the catalogue of foul ups" (as the Evening Chronicle put it), made in the course of the government's handling of the FMD crisis.
This states: "The supplier undertakes to abide and procure that his employees abide by the provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1911 to 1989. "The supplier shall keep secret and not disclose any information of a confidential nature obtained by him by reason of the contract, except information which is in the public domain otherwise than by breach of this provision".
March 14 - 20 ~ This is not a question of anyone wanting to blame Mr Dring
Western Morning News (Wednesday) "... he gave no explanation of why the report had been withheld from the Anderson Inquiry. And he dismissed calls to reopen the inquiry so that the evidence of Mr Dring's report could be considered properly.
The report was published on Defra's website last night. But it was missing its cover sheet, in which Mr Dring makes clear that his report was intended to go to the Anderson Inquiry.
.....Mrs Browning said: "I have read Mr Dring's report and the WMN's reporting of it is certainly not misleading. "This is not a question of anyone wanting to blame Mr Dring and it is not a political game. It is about getting a definitive answer on how the 2001 FMD started and ensuring that its lessons are fully learned."
March 16 2004 ~ "...the first visible signs of FMD would, in his opinion, have been seen on the farm on or about 12 February... "
The WMN is publishing in instalments the so-called "aide-memoire" of the SVS vet, Jim Dring; the submission he made to Iain Anderson which was withheld by DEFRA from arriving at the Lessons Learned Inquiry. The extract chronicles the disposal of the unfortunate pigs, showing how cursory were the attempts at disinfection. It also raises a question about the date of infection at Burnside
"The trailer-loads were not individually sheeted due to lack of suitable sheet and delay in (i) acquiring one and (ii) applying it to each load. Neither were carcass heads and feet individually bagged, due to impracticality, time-constraints and also lack of suitable materials. Neither was any pre-slaughter disinfection carried out. ...."Very odd is the paragraph about "antibodies". Did Mr Dring mean antibodies or evidence of active virus? If antibodies were indeed found to be widespread, is not the guess about "duration" wrong? We would very much appreciate guidance here.
"Dr Kitching's team blood-sampled 221 Burnside pigs on this day. All 221 samples were tested for FMD antibody, with 195 (or 88 per cent) proving positive. This constitutes (a) further confirmation (if any be needed) that disease was indeed present on this site at this time as well as (b) a telling indication of the weight (and thus duration) of infection here.... I saw no notifiable disease there before 22 February 2001, nor was it ever suggested to me that such was present. On 24 February 2001 Dr Kitching expressed the opinion to me that the oldest FMD lesions he had seen on that day were 12 day old - ie, that the first visible signs of FMD would, in his opinion, have been seen on the farm on or about 12 February. With an added incubation period of eight-ten days, he told me he believed the virus would have been introduced into the herd between 2 and 4 February."Read in full
March 16 2004 ~ Waugh's pig farm - "in those strictly narrowly-defined terms they were good at their job" says the Dring document
Mr Dring wrote too about the apparent health of the pigs at the farm.
"The herd at Burnside was routinely a strong and healthy one.... This herd was routinely strong, vigorous, well-grown, well-fed and healthy.. Read in full
Certainly I saw no notifiable disease there before 22 February 2001, nor was it ever suggested to me that such was present.... On the strength of this independent epidemiological assessment, therefore, I feel safe in asserting that I did not on that date miss the presence in Waugh's herd of FMD. I say this not because I believe myself incapable of such a thing, but simply because disease at that time was not there .."
29 Apr 2004 ~ Mr. Whittingdale: If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I have little time left.Hansard 29 Apr 2004 : Column 1095 ".... All those questions should have been examined by a full public inquiry into how the epidemic originated and how the Government managed it. Instead, we had three different inquiries, focusing on different narrow aspects of the crisis, none of which persuaded farmers that a proper investigation had taken place.
That lack of confidence has now been compounded by the revelation of the submission by Mr. Jim Dring. His statement that, if the inspection of the Waugh farm had been more rigorous, the foot and mouth epidemic might never have come about, is clearly immensely important. Mr. Dring has said that he intended his statement to go before the Anderson inquiry. His submission certainly amounted to more than, in the Secretary of State's words,
"musing about the matter, examining his conscience and asking, 'Oh dearis there more that I could have done'".[Official Report, 11 March 2004; Vol. 418, c. 1640.]That is what she said, though the Minister tried to deny it. At least Lord Whitty has admitted that Dr. Anderson should have received that report[Interruption.] However, we are now told that the Secretary of State held an internal investigation, which concluded that there was no intention to mislead the inquiry and that that evidence would not have made any difference in any case. As the Western Morning News said in its editorial, the exposure of Jim Dring's evidence served only to strengthen the overwhelming case for a public inquiry into the foot and mouth disaster. That case remains as strong as ever. We agree. ...." Read in full
DEFRA 'IN THE CLEAR' OVER VET'S REPORT11:00 - 22 April 2004
Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett last night insisted there had been "no intention to mislead" the official inquiry into foot and mouth when the Government withheld a report in which a state vet said he could have prevented the disaster.
In a letter to the Lib-Dem rural affairs spokesman, Andrew George, Mrs Beckett said an internal investigation had cleared officials of deliberately misleading the "lessons learned" inquiry, chaired by Dr Iain Anderson, when they blocked the submission of a report by government vet Jim Dring.
But Mr George said an independent investigation into the affair was still needed to "restore trust" in battered rural communities.
The internal investigation was ordered by Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw and Sir Brian Bender, the permanent secretary at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, after the WMN revealed the existence of Mr Dring's report last month.
Mr Dring concluded that the foot and mouth crisis "would never have come about" if his inspection of Bobby Waugh's Northumberland pig farm in the weeks leading up to the outbreak had been "more rigorous".
But although his report was addressed to the Anderson Inquiry it was blocked by Defra officials.
Mrs Beckett said the internal investigation had cleared both ministers and officials of wrongdoing.
She said the investigation had concluded that there was "no intention on the part of officials to mislead the lessons learned inquiry".
And she added that there was "nothing to be gained from an independent investigation".
Mrs Beckett said Mr Dring's "statement" had been blocked by officials on the basis of legal advice that it could prejudice Waugh's trial on foot and mouth related charges.
"The issue was not referred to ministers," she added.
Mrs Beckett said that the "factual information" contained in Mr Dring's report was "covered" in other material submitted to the inquiry, which became known as the Lessons Learned Inquiry.
She added: "Both Dr Anderson and I believe it would have been preferable if Mr Dring's statement had been passed to the inquiry.
"Nonetheless, Dr Anderson has publicly stated that Jim Dring's statement would not have changed any of the conclusions or recommendations in his inquiry's report."
However Mr George, MP for St Ives, said that public confidence had been so damaged by the handling of Mr Dring's report that an independent investigation was now needed.
"In the end this is all about trust," he said. "A large section of the farming community simply do not trust the Government on this.
"When they hear that everyone has been cleared by an internal investigation the reaction of many will be: 'They're bound to say that'.
"I would like to be able to say that ministers are honourable and can be trusted at all times.
"But the way that the truth has had to be dragged out of them on this issue does not inspire confidence.
"This was something that had potentially massive implications and probably the only way to clear it up properly is to have a narrow, independent investigation into what went on."
Mr George said he was also surprised by the change in Mrs Beckett's attitude towards Mr Dring's report.
When the report was initially revealed, Mrs Beckett appeared to suggest that it had never been intended for the Anderson Inquiry, dismissing it as private "musings" and "notes he made for himself".
Mr George added: "If you compare their dismissal of the issue when it was first raised to what they are saying now, there does seem to be some inconsistency there and people are bound to ask: 'why should we trust you now?'"
HOWARD PLEDGE ON VET REPORT 'COVER-UP'
JASON GROVES LONDON EDITOR
09:00 - 02 April 2004
Tory leader Michael Howard yesterday pledged to pursue the Government over the cover-up of a controversial report in which a state vet claimed he could have prevented the foot and mouth disaster.TORY leader Michael Howard yesterday pledged to pursue the Government over the cover-up of a controversial report in which a state vet claimed he could have prevented the foot and mouth disaster.....Mr Howard likened the affair to the Government cover-ups over lax immigration controls which yesterday forced the resignation of Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes..." Read in full
MP CALLS FOR NEW FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY
09:00 - 26 March 2004
A westcountry MP has stepped up calls for an investigation into the Government's decision to withhold vital evidence from the official foot and mouth inquiry. Lib-Dem rural affairs spokesman Andrew George said there was still a need for an independent inquiry into the decision to suppress a report in which Government vet Jim Dring claimed he could have prevented the 2001 disaster.
Mr Dring concluded that the foot and mouth crisis "would never have come about" if his inspection of Bobby Waugh's Northumberland pig farm in the weeks leading up to the outbreak had been "more rigorous".
Farms Minister Lord Whitty told peers this week that the Government had been wrong to withhold the report from the "lessons learned" inquiry chaired by Dr Iain Anderson. Lord Whitty described the decision as "regrettable", but said officials had acted in good faith on legal advice that the report should be withheld for fear of prejudicing Waugh's trial. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs initially claimed that Mr Dring's 12,000-word report was an "aide memoire" that was not intended for the Anderson Inquiry.
But, in an attempt to draw a line under the affair, Lord Whitty conceded that the "wider significance" of the report meant that it should have been submitted to Dr Anderson. He said ministers would have taken a different decision if they had been aware of the decision. But he was unable to say definitively whether other evidence had been withheld from Dr Anderson.
Mr George, MP for St Ives, told the WMN an independent inquiry was now needed into the handling of Mr Dring's report and the implications of its conclusions. "The whole situation is very unsatisfactory," he said. "We have had to drag information out of Defra day by day. We have now had series of admissions: firstly that the report actually exists; secondly that it was intended for the inquiry; and thirdly that it was a mistake not to have forwarded it. Initially Margaret Beckett was dismissing this report as Mr Dring's private 'musings'.
"We now know that it was a detailed submission, which clearly took a significant amount of time to draw up and which could have been one of the most important documents received by the inquiry.
"We now need a short, sharp, independent inquiry into what happened to it and whether the material it contained would have materially affected the findings of Dr Anderson's inquiry. Defra has got away with murder on this and it leaves a very bad taste in the mouths of the many people who suffered tremendously in 2001."
GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO WESTERN MORNING NEWS
09:00 - 24 March 2004
Controversy has raged since the WMN revealed that an admission by government vet Jim Dring - that the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic could have been prevented if his inspection of the farm where it began had been more rigorous - had been withheld from the so-called Lessons To Be Learned inquiry. In the latest exchange, we publish correspondence between the government's Chief Vet Jim Scudamore and WMN Editor Barrie Williams
Turning Natural Justice On Its Head
Dear Mr Williams
I would like to respond to the WMN's recent coverage of the role of the State Veterinary Service vet, Jim Dring, who inspected Burnside Farm in Northumbria before the foot and mouth outbreak.
Your leader column stated: "We have never suggested that Mr Dring was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak???our comments on the issue have not been directed at Jim Dring at all."
But in your signed editorial of March 13 you said that the foot and mouth epidemic could have been prevented if Mr Dring's inspection of the Waughs farm had been more rigorous. Your editorial went on: "???if it were not for his (Mr Dring's) blunders this disaster may never have happened."
Your readers will make their own judgement about the consistency of your two statements.
Because of your selective and tendentious reporting of the personal statement Jim Dring wrote after the foot and mouth outbreak, Mr Dring has agreed for the full document to be put in the public domain. It can be found on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth/
Far from showing any incompetence or "blunders" on Mr Dring's or the then Maff's part, it shows a conscientious vet dealing with a difficult farmer who was intent on concealing dangerous and illegal practices on his farm.
To suggest that Mr Dring may have been responsible for the foot and mouth disease outbreak, instead of the illegal pig swill feeding that was taking place at Burnside Farm, is to turn logic and natural justice on its head. It has also caused great distress to a dedicated public servant.
Chief Veterinary Officer Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Accusation Of Selective Reporting Is Nonsense
Dear Mr Scudamore
I have to resist Defra's cynical attempts to shift the focus of this story by turning the WMN into the villain of the piece.
It is Defra, not the WMN, which persists in personalising the issue by focusing on Jim Dring. This will not succeed in diverting attention from the real point which is that Mr Dring's document, clearly addressed to the Anderson inquiry, never got there - a situation which the chairman, Iain Anderson, himself described as "regrettable" in an interview with Farmers' Weekly at the weekend.
It was not the WMN which said that the foot and mouth disaster could have been prevented if Mr Dring's inspection of the Waugh's premises had been more rigorous but Mr Dring himself in the document which was withheld from the inquiry. He also wrote that staff shortages caused him to cut corners.
The WMN has paid tribute to Mr Dring's honesty and courage and stressed several times that it would be wholly wrong to make him a scapegoat - as have MPs who have raised the issue in the House of Commons.
To argue at the same time that his document should have been made public through the Anderson inquiry is not inconsistent.
It is demonstrable nonsense to accuse the WMN of "selective and tendentious" reporting of Mr Dring's document. We published it in its entirety and were doing so well before DEFRA put it on its website.
There's a lot of selective and tendentious stuff going on, Mr Scudamore, but it is not coming from the Western Morning News.
Editor, Western Morning News
FMD leak could cost #billionsSource: FWi By Jonathan Riley
THE GOVERNMENT could face compensation claims running into billions of pounds from those who suffered an economic loss due to the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak.
Legal experts believe there may be grounds for legal action after a FARMERS WEEKLY article (News, Mar 5) shed new light on the events leading up to the outbreak.
The article revealed the contents of a signed statement by the vet who inspected the Waugh brothers' Burnside Farm, Northumberland, only 10 days before F&M was introduced.
The farm was the site of the first case of F&M in the 2001 UK outbreak.
In the signed statement, State Veterinary Service vet Jim Dring wrote:
"At a time when illicit feeding practices were clearly in train, and had been for some time, I inspected this [sic] premises with a view to renewing the Waughs' Article 26 licence."
"Had this inspection been more rigorous than it was, had the licence not been renewed, or renewed only subject to radical revision of the Waugh's patently deficient feeding technique, then this awful 2001 F&M epidemic would never have come about."
Lawyers now believe that this statement could pave the way for legal action.
Tim Russ, a rural law specialist who played a central role in pressing for the public inquiry into F&M, said: "If it can be established that someone acting as a government agent behaved improperly, for example if that agent was negligent, then this could provide a foundation on which to base legal action."
"Consequential losses were not covered by the compensation paid out," said Mr Russ, of West Country-based law firm Clarke Wilmott Clarke.
"That would mean [60,000] people under Form D restrictions, who didn't receive any compensation, but who suffered considerably, could have a claim for compensation if this statement stood up to scrutiny in court."
"The government could lose a hell of a lot of money if this statement is proved to be an admission of negligence on the part of an agent of the government."
"But whoever embarks on the fight against the government had better have a stomach for a fight, a very good lawyer and deep pockets. The government would fight this right to the House of Lords," Mr Russ added.
Richard Lissack QC, who also worked on the case for a public inquiry, confirmed that in the light of the FARMERS WEEKLY article and Mr Dring's submission he had been approached formally to consider whether there was a proper claim in law for economic losses caused by F&M.
"I will be considering the new evidence," said Mr Lissack.
But he added: "We need a client to come forward to represent. The figures at stake here that have been suggested to me could be in the order of #11bn."
BECKETT ADMITS VET'S REPORT WAS WITHHELD
09:00 - 12 March 2004
Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett was under mounting pressure to order a public inquiry into the 2001 foot and mouth disaster yesterday, after she admitted that a vital report had been "withheld" from the original investigation.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday Mrs Beckett acknowledged that the report, in which the Government vet Jim Dring admitted he could have prevented the outbreak, was kept secret from the chairman of the Anderson Inquiry into the disaster.
Lib-Dem MP John Burnett described the decision to withhold the document as "a disgrace".
Mr Burnett, whose Torridge and West Devon constituency was one of the worst affected in the country during the crisis, said: "This is a key part of the explanation for the genesis of the crisis - there could not be a more relevant piece of evidence for any inquiry into the lessons to be learned. It is an absolute disgrace that this was not brought to the attention of the Anderson Inquiry and I'm afraid it smacks of a cover-up."
Lib-Dem rural affairs spokesman Andrew George said there was now a clear case for an independent inquiry into both the report's findings and the decision by officials at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to cover it up.
Mr George, MP for St Ives, challenged Mrs Beckett in the Commons yesterday to make a full statement on the affair.
"Will you confirm that Mr Dring would, by his own admission, have prevented the devastating foot and mouth outbreak had his inspection of Burnside Farm in Northumberland been more rigorous?" he asked.
"Do you accept that this vital evidence was withheld from Dr Anderson's inquiry into the lessons from that particular outbreak?
"And do you agree that this narrow but crucial issue should be properly investigated through an independent inquiry?"
Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Theresa May has already called for a public inquiry into the events of 2001, following the revelations.
Mr Dring's report concluded that the foot and mouth disaster "would never have come about" if his inspection of Bobby Waugh's Northumberland pig farm had been "more rigorous". The 2001 disaster is thought to have been sparked by the feeding of untreated swill to pigs on Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall.
Mr Dring visited the farm just days before the outbreak when he granted Waugh a renewed swill feeding licence. His report said that "illicit swill feeding practices were clearly in train, and had been for some time" at the farm.
Mrs Beckett yesterday admitted that the document had been "withheld" from the Anderson Inquiry. But she insisted that the "issues behind the memo" were discussed with Dr Iain Anderson who chaired the investigation.
Although Mr Dring's report was addressed to the Anderson Inquiry, Mrs Beckett described it as "notes he made for himself". A Defra spokesman told the WMN this week that departmental lawyers had decided Mr Dring's comments were "not material" to the inquiry.
And Mrs Beckett said yesterday that it would be wrong to blame Mr Dring, or any other Government official, for the disaster.
She added: "I think it would be wholly wrong and very unfair to Mr Dring to suggest that in some way he is responsible.
"He is not responsible; it is the person who employed standards which helped to foster such an outbreak who is responsible.
"Mr Dring has done no more than I think any one of us might do in musing over, examining his conscience if you like, to say 'Oh dear is there more I could have done?'
"That's what any reasonable human being should do; the idea of him being held guilty because he has done it is frankly very unfair."
Mr George told the WMN that he was not seeking to blame Mr Dring but to ensure that the lessons identified in his report were learned and to establish why it had apparently been covered up.
"I would congratulate Mr Dring on being so honest about the possible cause of the outbreak," he said. "But we need someone to take an independent look at his concerns, in respect of inspections of pig farms in that area, and into what happened to them.
"You cannot have a lessons learned inquiry if a crucial piece of information has been kept away from the chairman."
There will be no respite for ministers next week when backbench MPs have called a debate on the pig swill ban that followed the 2001 outbreak. Swill feeders are preparing a High Court case for Government compensation and are expected to use Mr Dring's report as evidence that it was regulatory failings, rather than problems with swill feeding per se that sparked the crisis.
Angela Browning, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, is expected to raise the contents of Mr Dring's report during next week's debate.
Tory MP Boris Johnson, who has called the debate, yesterday described the swill ban as an "ill-thought-out, vexatious and bossy piece of legislation".
Environment Minister Elliot Morley expressed "sympathy" for the swill feeding industry, but said there were "major risks" associated with it.
MPs ADD VOICES TO CALLS FOR FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY09:00 - 12 March 2004
Westcountry politicians yesterday added their voices to renewed calls for a full public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis in the wake of the leaked Government vet's report. Opposition MPs and MEPs told the WMN that Jim Dring's document - in which he admitted that a "more rigorous" inspection of the pig farm where the 2001 outbreak started could have prevented the disaster - raised questions which could only be answered by a completely open investigation.
Neil Parish, Conservative MEP for the South West, said: "My position all along has been that there should have been a full public judicial inquiry in the UK where we could cross-examine witnesses.
"It has always been a travesty of justice that there has not been one. In the light of this evidence we should look at it again."
Lib-Dem MP Nick Harvey, whose North Devon constituency was badly hit by the crisis, agreed that only a full public inquiry could uncover the truth about how the epidemic was handled.
"We have still never really had some of the key issues investigated properly," he said. "I think this serves to remind us how unsatisfactory the Government's response to the whole thing was."
He added: "To withhold the expert testimony of the vet on the spot at the point of outbreak just seems to be a dereliction of duty."
Angela Browning, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "I would support the call for a full public inquiry - but I do not think there is a hope in hell of the Government agreeing to it.
"We have still not got to the bottom of the start of foot and mouth so that lessons can be learned. We have never had a definitive answer about the product of the swill and where it came from."
BECKETT TO BE QUIZZED OVER VET'S ADMISSION10:28 - 11 March 2004
Margaret Beckett could face Parliamentary questions today Thu Mar 11 over a Government vet's admission that he could have prevented the 2001 foot and mouth disaster.
Opposition MPs intend to ask the Rural Affairs Secretary why a report by North East vet Jim Dring was not sent to the official Anderson Inquiry into the devastating outbreak.
In the document, first published by the WMN last week, Mr Dring says the crisis "would never have come about" if his inspection of a Northumberland farm just weeks before the first outbreak had been "more rigorous".
Both Tory and Lib-Dem politicians yesterdayWed Mar 10 pledged to raise questions in the House of Commons about why Mr Dring's report was not made public.
Andrew George, Lib-Dem rural affairs spokesman and MP for St Ives, said: "The fact is this report was available to the department. That it was not made available to the Anderson Inquiry is deeply scandalous. It seems to me very much the focus of what the inquiry was all about."
Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Theresa May said she would call for Mr Dring's report to be published in full to ensure "the truth is not buried".
She hopes to quiz Mrs Beckett today when ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) take questions.
But because the subject is not one of the pre-determined questions listed for discussion, this will depend on the Speaker allowing her to raise the issue.
Mrs May said: "The discovery of Mr Dring's report raises serious questions about the Government's handling of the outbreak and the validity of the subsequent investigations. We must know why this information was not made available at the time and, more importantly, why it was not shown to the Anderson Inquiry.
"It is essential that the Government publishes the report in full - otherwise people will suggest that there was some kind of cover-up taking place.
"If it is true that Government officials were negligent in failing to spot the obvious signs of the disease, then those who suffered financially as a result will naturally be demanding compensation.
"I will be submitting a number of written Parliamentary questions to the Minister, demanding answers.It is essential for all concerned that the truth is not buried."
Mr Dring inspected Burnside Farm in Northumberland, which was run by pig farmer Bobby Waugh and his brother, in January 2001 - just weeks before vets discovered the first outbreak of foot and mouth disease there.
Defra has said that the document produced by Mr Dring - only two pages of which have been seen by the WMN - was a "personal statement" prepared in case it was needed as a submission to the Anderson Inquiry. In the event, the Government decided that it was "not material" to the inquiry.
The department is refusing to make the full report public because it contains "personal, confidential information", some of which "might be considered defamatory".
FOOT AND MOUTH DISASTER COMES BACK TO HAUNT TONY BLAIRWMN 09:00 - 10 March 2004
Foot and mouth came back to haunt Tony Blair last night as it emerged vital evidence may have been withheld from the official inquiry into the 2001 disaster.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed that a report, which implicates the failings of a Government vet, had never been sent to the official Anderson Inquiry.
Details of the report were first published by the WMN last week. In it the Government vet Jim Dring says the 2001 disaster "would never have come about" if his inspection of Burnside Farm, Northumberland, just days before the outbreak started, had been "more rigorous".
Yesterday, a Defra spokesman said the report had been an "aide memoire" produced by Mr Dring for his own purposes.
He said the Government had decided that the document was "not material" to the inquiry by Dr Iain Anderson into the lessons to be learned from the disaster.
Defra said that the "issues surrounding" Mr Dring's inspection of Waugh's farm were discussed by Dr Anderson and Mr Dring's bosses. But the report was never released to him.
The revelation has re-ignited the row about Mr Blair's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the disaster.
Last night, the Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Theresa May said ministers needed to provide clear answers as to why the report had apparently been suppressed.
Mrs May said: "We are very concerned that it has taken so long for the existence of this report to come to light.
"It appears that there may have been a cover-up to conceal official incompetence and we need to know at what level that took place and why."
Mrs May said that the report had wide-ranging implications, both for the lessons to be learned from the disaster and on the issue of compensation for the thousands of rural businesses affected by the crisis.
A Defra spokesman last night told the WMN that Mr Dring's memo had been prepared as "a personal statement in case it was needed in a submission to the Anderson Inquiry".
He said Mr Dring had never asked for it to be submitted to the inquiry and was "not concerned" that it had not been. Instead it was sent to Mr Dring's managers and Defra lawyers.
The report was not submitted to the Anderson Inquiry initially because it could have been "prejudicial" to the trial of pig farmer Bobby Waugh, the owner of Burnside Farm, who faced a number of foot and mouth related charges in May 2002.
Submissions to the Anderson Inquiry closed at the end of March 2002. Waugh was convicted on 30 May, 2002 and the Anderson Inquiry report was published two months later.
The Defra spokesman added: "While it would have been possible for the department to submit further information after this date it was not felt that Mr Dring's personal statement was material to the inquiry."
Mr Dring's report noted that "illicit feeding practices were clearly in train and had been for some time" at Burnside Farm.
However Defra yesterday said he had been right to renew Waugh's swill feeding licence.
The foot and mouth crisis is thought to have been sparked by the feeding of untreated swill infected with the virus at Waugh's farm.
But a Defra spokesman said: "Line managers are content that Jim Dring did all that can reasonably be expected of an inspecting officer and he was correct in re-licensing the plant on the basis of his inspection.
"At the time of the inspection, when he was accompanied by an officer from Northumberland Trading Standards, neither officer observed material evidence that would lead them to conclude that a licence to feed swill should not continue and no animal health or welfare offences were observed."
The Defra spokesman also said that the department would continue to block the full publication of Mr Dring's report, only the conclusions of which have been obtained by the WMN.
He said that it contained "personal, confidential information", some of which "might be considered defamatory".
He added: "It contains a number of conclusions drawn from speculative hindsight."
Dr Anderson, who conducted the "lessons learned" inquiry behind closed doors, did not appear to be aware of Mr Dring's views.
In the notes of a discussion with the Chief Vet Jim Scudamore, Dr Anderson asked "what, if anything" had been observed during the inspection of Waugh's farm in January 2001.
Dr Scudamore replied that "no matter what level of disarray was observed on an inspection, inspectors were not empowered to tackle poorly run farms per se unless there had been a breach of animal welfare or other regulations".
DEFRA withheld virus papers
THE Anderson Inquiry never received vital FMD papers from Defra
DEFRA publishes vet paper
DEFRA HAS been forced to publish a FMD paper after it was leaked to
Mr. Boris Johnson (Henley) (Con): On 24 May 2001, three months after the outbreak of foot and mouth, there entered into force the Animal By-Products (Amendment) (England) Order 2001. At the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, there perished in this country a practice that has taken place for thousands of years, ever since mankind domesticated animalsthe feeding of food waste to pigs in the form of swill feed.
I know that Members on both sides of the House want to contribute in this short debate, so I do not propose to waste time by disputing the logic of that decision, although I believe that it was illogical to penalise innocent swill feeders for the irresponsible behaviour of one, who may or may not have been implicated in the outbreak of foot and mouth. I hold out no hope that the Minister will do the right thing and revoke the ban, but it is right to draw his attention to its adverse effects, which, like so many pieces of regulation, is adding to the costs of business and industry.
To take one example, Phyllis Court hotel in Henley must now pay an extra #1,000 a year to a licensed collector, whose responsibility is to remove wet waste that previously went to a pigswill feeder. Given that there is room for only three years' waste in our landfill sites, that is not the cleanest and greenest solution. It is estimated that the ban on swill feeding is generating an extra 1.7 million tonnes of waste per year, and that which does not fill up our landfill sites must be going down our drains, clogging up the sewers and attracting vermin.
Yet of all the people who are suffering the ill effects of the ban, the worst hit are the 62 previously licensed swill feeders. It is the injustice to them on which I shall concentrate. I will show that the Government have been triply culpable in their behaviour towards the swill feeders and therefore owe them compensation. There is the simple moral case: many swill feeders were urged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to buy very expensive equipment and a few months later that machinery, like their profession, was redundant.
The Minister for the Environment said last week in the House that he would not compensate the 62 swill feeders for this Government-imposed frustration of their Government-inspired expectations on the principle that the Government do not compensate for the introduction of health and safety measures. He cited in support of his actions the Tory Government's refusal to compensate those who de-boned the heads of animals when that practice was banned during the BSE crisis.
Hansard records how in 1996 the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), now the Minister for the Environment, clamoured for compensation for the head de-boners saying that the Government had a moral duty to compensate them. Someone has changed his tune. I expect the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will invoke the prerogative of government to hypocrisy, to say one thing in opposition and to do another in government. He will brush aside the moral obligation that I believe is on him and his Government. I must warn him that they face a far more difficult legal challenge. Government negligence created
At the time of the outbreak it is now obvious that the UK Government were in material breach of article 15, paragraph 3, of EU council directive 80/217/EEC, in that the UK's Animal By-Products Order 1999 allowed
"the consigning of swill from premises approved for the processing and feeding swill to other holdings".
Now the EU directive did not ban swill feedingfar from it. In fact the Minister may have inadvertently misled the House when he said that it had been banned across Europe, because it will continue in Germany, Italy and Austria until at least 2006. It might have continued here if Ministers had had more gumption and had stood up for the industry in this country.
The EU directive demanded a more stringent regime than that imposed in Britain, and it could be arguedI should warn the Minister that it will be argued when the matter comes to adjudication by the courtsthat the UK Government's lax implementation of the directive created the conditions in which irresponsible and unhygienic swill feeding, of the kind we saw at Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, was more likely. That made the outbreak of foot and mouth more likely and the innocent swill feeders more likely to be punished for the crimes of the guilty few.
I need hardly remind the Minister, who I am sure is an expert in European law, that under the Francovich ruling the European Court of Justice laid down the principle of state liability for damage caused to individuals by breaches of community law, giving rise to an obligation on that state to make good such damage. Even if, as I hope will not be the case, the Minister does not accept that he and his Government have a moral duty or any legal obligation under Francovich principles, there is the simple moral point that the UK Government failed adequately to enforce their own regulations, never mind EU regulations.
A report by the EU Commission conducted from 1 to 5 October 2001 not only highlighted the legal discrepancies, it found that two former swill feeders were failing to comply with the Animal By-Products Order 1999. The report pointed out that
"insufficient hygiene standards have allowed for the contamination of clean areas by unclean waste".
The clinching point in my case is that made by Mr. Jim Dring, the state veterinary officer responsible for reviewing Bobby Waugh's licence a mere 14 days before the index case of foot and mouth disease appeared on his farm. In a statement dated 5 Oct 2001, Mr. Dring accepted that had his inspection
"been more rigorous than it was, had the licence not been renewed, or renewed subject only to radical revision of Waugh's patently deficient feeding technique, then this awful 2001 foot and mouth epidemic would never have come about."16 Mar 2004 : Column 64WH
There could be no clearer admission by the emanations of the state of failure adequately to police their own regulations, nor could it be clearer that, had the state done its duty properly, there would have been no need to ban an innocent and ancient practice.
That is the moral and the legal case for treating those 62 swill feeders well, rather than just brushing them contemptuously asideas the Minister has been tempted to do in the pastas people engaged in a sordid and mildly amusing activity, which is unlikely to command public support. They may be involved in a mucky business, but that is no reason to treat them like muck.
We must err on the side of caution in the agriculture sector, but my case is that the disaster took place precisely because the Government did not err on the side of caution in implementing the directive and enforcing the law; they must bear the responsibility for that.
I urge the Minister to consider how his Department's money will be best spentin lodging lawyers in Luxembourg to fight a case in which the Government do not occupy the moral high ground, and which is, at best, legally uncertain, or in doing the right thing by the representatives of an ancient British industry who have been done out of a job through no fault of their own.
Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North and Sefton, East) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) on securing a debate on an important subject. He may have over-egged his pudding in terms of the politics, but the basic point that he makes is correct.
Two potential issues are at stake that should be explored thoroughly and properly in the debate and by the Government, but that has not yet happened. The first issue is whether there has been a failure in policy or procedure by the Government. One incident triggered off a ban that affected every swill feeder in the UK. The incident was serious, and it may be the case, although there is some dispute about it, that that incident triggered off the whole problem with foot and mouth disease. However, all swill feeders suffered the consequence of that one lapse. The decision was rushed through in a matter of daysthere was no proper consultation, compensation or consideration of the effect that it would have on those swill feeders' livelihoods.
Mark Prescot and his brother were pig farmers in Melling in my constituency. They are not pig farmers any more. They had spent quite a lot of money on the correct equipment, but they were then prevented from engaging in that activity and were given no compensation for the money that they had invested in the equipment. I contend either that the Government were unfair or that they overreacted. If they overreacted, there is a case for maladministration. I have referred Mark Prescot's case to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrationseveral other hon. Members have referred similar cases to himand he will determine whether there has been maladministration. I believe that there has, but will await his verdict.
However, even allowing for the fact that that investigation is under way, the policy was unfair. Comparisons can be made with deep-sea fishermen and mink farmers, all of whom were compensated for having to disengage from the industries in which they were involved. However, no serious consideration was given to the pig farmers. The most that Mark Prescot got was a helpful consultant who looked at his land and the activities in which he was engaged and concluded that he could not think of anything else that he could do except put in a fishing pond. That was helpful, although Mark Prescot realistically decided that charging people to use a fishing pond might not be the most economic use of his land. That is the only assistance that he received.
Among all the problems in my constituencyyours, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is situated next door to mine and suffers from similar difficultiesit may seem strange for me, as an urban MP, to be taking up this one. However, the fact is that my constituent has lost his livelihood and has not been compensated in any way. That is almost unprecedented. I cannot remember any other industry that has, in effect, been destroyed without any consideration of compensating those involved for the loss of their livelihood. It is quite possibly a case of maladministrationthat remains to be seenbut it is most certainly a strong case of unfairness.
Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Ind Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) on introducing this important debate. I was involved with the issue in 2001, when I received representations from Mrs. Lynda Davies of the Association of Swill Users. As a result, I met Mrs. Davies and the Rev. Keith Ineson of the Salvation Army's agricultural chaplaincy in Cheshire to discuss the severe difficulties experienced by swill users. I pay tribute to Keith Ineson for his valuable work during the foot and mouth epidemic, and I am sorry to hear that he has been made redundant: he is the last agricultural chaplain in the United Kingdom.
In November 2001, Keith Ineson reported to me that 41 farmers in Cheshire, most of whom were tenants and had no alternative business or accommodation, were in dire straits, placing many families under great stress. Mr. Ineson reported to me that one elderly farming couple were then living on an income of just #100 a month. I remain concerned that the manner in which the ban on pigswill was implemented by DEFRA paid insufficient attention to the practicalities faced by the majority of farmers using pigswill, in addition to the detrimental way in which the ban impacted on pig farmers' livelihoods.
The decision to introduce a ban was based on the evidence derived from a single case of pigswill use, which was then considered to have been the source of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, rather than on the usual methods of collection, storage, processing and distribution used generally by pig farmers in the United Kingdom. The feeding of catering waste to pigs was subject to a host of stringent rules and regulations, to which farmers working under licence firmly adhered, and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food inspectors visited farms every three months. The failure was due to the lack of inspection, and not to the pigswill users.
There were particularly difficult circumstances pertaining to animal husbandry in the United Kingdom at that time, and DEFRA instituted an extremely brief period of consultation in which interested parties could participate. Even with meaningful consultation, the Department's stringent proposals were not amended as a result of the limited number of representations received during that short period. As a direct result of the ban, a considerable number of small businesses, each feeding an average of 1,500 pigs, were lost. These farmers were given a maximum of 10 days' notification in which to finish feeding pigs completely or to adapt their plants to take alternative feeding methods. Both options were totally unreasonable and unworkable, given the time factor involved.
I do not want to take any more time, except to make the point that in Europe, pigswill continues in Austria, Germany and Italy, those countries having obtained a derogation until 2006. They are more fortunate than the 62 swill users who, at the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen, were put out of business in this country. If justice is to be done, they should be compensated.
It may be helpful if I put the debate on pigswill into its historical context. Legislation controlling the feeding of waste food to animals is not new. In the 1940s, there were a number of swill-related orders, including the Diseases of Animals (Boiling of Animal Foodstuffs) Order 1947 and the Foot and Mouth Disease (Disinfection of Road Vehicles) Order 1941, which was introduced during the war. Since then, the controls have been progressively strengthened in recognition of the risks of feeding food waste and with the aim of trying to avoid outbreaks of serious diseases such as foot and mouth and classical swine fever. Significant among those were the orders of 1954, 1973, 1987 and 1999.
Until recently, swill feeding was considered a useful way to dispose of waste food, provided that the legislative requirements were strictly adhered to. What made us review that practice? In 2001 we had the worst outbreak of foot and mouth disease in living memory. Following the outbreak, the risks from swill feeding became much greater. Before the outbreak, the main risk was from the feeding of imported infected meat products. Afterwards, there was a much greater risk of infectivity from domestically produced meat because of the amount of virus in circulation. That is why we introduced the ban when we did, in order to reduce the risk of foot and mouth spreading. After the introduction of the UK ban, the European Commission proposed an EU-wide ban on swill feeding of waste food to livestock. We supported the continuation of that ban, which now applies across the Community, with Germany and Austria, and not Italy, granted a four-year transitional phase-out period.
Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): Since the Minister has mentioned the Anderson inquiry, perhaps he can deal with the one point that I wished to make. My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) has brought the issue forward and we have all had sight of Mr. Dring's full report. However, that report was not available to the Anderson inquiry. The Secretary of State has admitted that, although the report was available to Ministers, they chose not to make it available to Anderson. It is clear to anyone who has read the report that it is pertinent to foot and mouth. In the light of the new evidence now in the public domain, will the Minister reconvene the Anderson committee to see what lessons should be learned from that important document?
The origin for the 2001 outbreak is considered to have been at Burnside farm, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, which was licensed to feed processed waste food under the Animal By-Products Order 1999. Burnside farm was permitted to obtain processed waste food from approved premises. Following the outbreak, evidence was found of unprocessed waste food having been fed to pigs at Burnside farm. That is the most likely source of infection of the pigs.
As hon. Members have said, in recent days there has been highly misleading and mischievous press coverage based on selective quoting of a personal statement made by the local MAFF vet, Jim Dring, in autumn 2001 about his contacts with the Waughs' farm in the run-up to the outbreak. I have decided today to publish Mr. Dring's personal testimony in full, so that people can read it and make up their own minds. A copy has been placed in the Library and on the DEFRA website. Far from showing any incompetence on the part of Mr. Dring or the then MAFF part, I believe that the document shows a dedicated and conscientious vet dealing with some difficult customers who went out of their way to conceal dangerous and illegal activity on their farm. To suggest, as some have done, that Mr. Dring was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak is like saying that a police officer who misses a piece of evidence at the scene of a crime is responsible for that crime rather than the criminal himself.
There has also been some confusion about the EU directive that governed the feeding of pigswill at the time, which the hon. Member for Henley mentioned. The directive permitted the treatment of swill in specialised establishments under official control and provided for such swill to be consigned from those establishments to approved premises. It states:
"Member States may authorize the treatment of swill in specialized establishments equipped for the purpose, on which there are no animals and which are under official control. In this16 Mar 2004 : Column 68WH
case, by way of derogation from paragraph 2, the swill may, after heat-treatment, also be used for the feeding of pigs other than fattening pigs, provided that its distribution and use are controlled so as to avoid any risk of the swine fever virus spreading".
In my Department's view, our legislation fully implemented the provisions of the directive. Consigning properly processed swill from approved premises to approved swill feeders was, at that time, a legitimate activity, and it was permitted under the directive.
Mr. George Howarth : Does my hon. Friend accept that my constituent Mark Prescot, for example, complied fully with those regulations and yet was stopped from using swill feed and therefore lost his livelihood? Does that not deserve compensation?
As I said, the introduction of the Animal By-Products Order 1999 provided more stringent controls than ever before. However, experience demonstrated that no matter how stringent the legislation, there will be those who will do not follow the rules. In the case of foot and mouth disease, which cost the country approximately #8 billion, that had catastrophic consequences. There is only one conclusion to be drawn: the Government made the right decision in banning the feeding of swill to pigs.
I turn now to the issue of compensation, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth). I fully appreciate that the introduction of the ban affected a group of producers that combined two roleswaste collector and pig farmer. In the past, Governments have not compensated farmers for changes in feed material available for their livestock. The ban did not prevent those affected from keeping pigs, although I accept that some farmers may have faced additional costs to adapt their feeding systems.
Pig producers, including former swill feeders, may continue to feed their livestock vegetable or bread waste or liquid feed that neither contains the banned products nor has originated from a kitchen or other premises where meat has been handled. Equally, the business of waste food collection could continue providing that no livestock are kept on the premises to which the waste was taken. In those circumstances, the waste would have to be disposed of by the collector at an approved disposal site.
My hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East made comparisons with other sectorsthe fishing and mink farming industries. The ban on mink farming prevented producers from farming mink, whereas the ban on swill feeding did not prevent the keeping of pigs. As I stated, it is not Government policy to compensate farmers for changes in the feed material available for their livestock and it would not be appropriate to start that now. The announcement made by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment in April 2001 about a #22.5 million package of aid to the fishing industry was not about compensation; it was an encouragement to adopt more sustainable fishing practices and to rationalise the industry through decommissioning.
Other opportunities were available, such as the rural enterprise scheme to help diversification, details of which have been made available to those campaigning on behalf of the swill feeders. I consider that the Government have not only gone to considerable lengths to listen to the concerns of former swill feeders, but done what they can to make available practical assistance to help overcome the difficulties that the ban may have caused individual businesses.
Mr. Johnson : Will the Minister specify exactly what practical help the Government have given to those swill feeders and why it cannot be extended to compensation for the machinery on which they have invested considerable sums?
Mr. Bradshaw : As I said, such compensation would set a precedent. The practical help is what I have just outlined: free business advice and help to encourage the swill feeders to diversify and to stay in business.
The hon. Member for Congleton (Ann Winterton) made a point about the consultation. The reason why the consultation period was brief was that we were in the middle of a foot and mouth outbreak. There were a good number of responses to the consultation. The overwhelming majority of organisations, including the National Farmers Union, the National Pig Association, the National Consumer Council and the Meat and Livestock Commission, supported the Government's decision to ban feeding pigswill to pigs.
Mr. Bradshaw : I shall not give way. The culprit was a farmer who was indulging in a dangerous and illegal activity, and Mr. Dring made every effort to do his job properly when he made his January visit. No one has suggested that he was negligent or that he missed important evidence. It is very easy for hon. Members to say in hindsight that the activity was obvious. It was not. I suggest that the hon. Lady reads the verbatim report made when Mr. Dring visited the farm in January.
The hon. Member for Henley also expressed concern that the ban has increased the amount of waste going to landfill. That needs to be put into context. When the ban was introduced, the number of pigs fed on swill amounted to approximately 1.5 per cent. of the national herd, which is very few pigs. The amount of waste food being used to feed to pigs was not great compared with the amounts of waste food going to landfill from other sources. However, the Government take their recycling targets seriously and are aware that the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill must be reduced, not increased. DEFRA strongly supports the option of composting and the biogas treatment of catering wastes. Those plants must be approved under the animal by-products regulation. Given that that legislation was introduced only recently, we have been doing well in dealing with applications for approval. To date, 10 plants are being validated and are now treating catering waste.
Adjourned accordingly at eighteen minutes to Five o'clock.
THE STENCH THAT STILL HANGS OVER FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE- 10 March 2004
There was a sickening smell from the foot and mouth epidemic when it was at its height in the early Spring of 2001. It was the pervasive stomach-wrenching stench of thousands of animals being burnt on pyres and of hundreds of thousands more, rotting in fields and farmyards. The smoke has long since cleared; the bodies long since removed. But that smell continues to hang around this rural nightmare because of the way it was so disastrously, incompetently and cynically handled by the Government.
Ministers might try to tell themselves that this issue is now closed and that those four little words, foot and mouth disease, no longer hold any resonance for people in Britain. But they are wrong, certainly so far as the rural areas worst affected are concerned. Here, the anger, the frustration and the deep sense of injustice will not go away.
Those feelings were given sharp focus again last week when the Western Morning News revealed exclusively the evidence given by government vet Jim Dring about the first days of the outbreak. Mr Dring believes he could have prevented the disaster if only he had been more rigorous following his inspection of the Northumberland farm where it all began in February 2001.
This story is not about Mr Dring. In no way should he be held up as a scapegoat. His honesty is wholly commendable and he might well be taking too much blame on to his own shoulders. The point is that his frank admission sheds crucially important light on the start of what became the most costly and damaging episode in British farming history and should have been made public. That bad smell is back, not because of what the honest Mr Dring is saying, but because his important admissions have been kept secret until now by a Government that, throughout the disaster and ever since, has tried desperately to cover its own back, while behaving with appalling indifference, and sometimes downright cruelty, to the rural community.
Just like the issues surrounding the Government's reasons for going to war in Iraq, the questions about the way the foot and mouth disaster was handled won't be silenced. The aftermath of foot and mouth disease received barely any national media coverage; the fall-out from the Iraq war has been virtually wall-to-wall for almost a year. But despite differences in scale, the two episodes - and what they tell us about New Labour - are similar. And in each case vital questions remain unanswered and the stench of something not quite right pervades. Two new pieces of information must now be added to the mass of evidence in support of a full public inquiry into the Government's handling of foot and mouth disease. The first is Mr Dring's revelation that whether through his own errors or those of his bosses he failed to take sufficiently rigorous action to prevent Northumberland farmer Bobby Waugh continuing to feed untreated swill to his pigs. The second is that in allowing pigswill prepared on another farm to be fed to Mr Waugh's pigs on his own farm, the Government was breaking an EU directive, put in place long before the foot and mouth outbreak. As former Devon pig farmer Robert Persey told the WMN last week: "If that directive had been enforced, Bobby Waugh would not have had a swill feeding licence and the UK might not have had foot and mouth disease." That's a hugely significant conclusion to draw and one that clearly justifies on its own this new pressure for an inquiry. But even without these latest revelations, the case for a full, open and accountable public hearing had been well made. What the WMN's revelations of Mr Dring's astonishing evidence has done is to catapult the entire story back into the public arena and put the pressure back on the Government. Each time this happens the Government twists and turns and wriggles to get off the hook. But each time the credibility of ministers, up to and including the Prime Minister, takes another hammering.
In attempting to defend its failure to make Mr Dring's evidence public as part of Dr Iain Anderson's Lessons to be Learned inquiry, Defra claim they were fearful of prejudicing Bobby Waugh's trial for offences connected to the foot and mouth outbreak. When it was pointed out, yesterday, that his trial actually took place a month before Dr Anderson published his findings, they switched tack and tried to hide behind the Data Protection Act.
That is, frankly, pathetic. Who is being "protected" by such a decision? Certainly not Mr Dring whose courage and honesty in being entirely open about it is exemplary. Nor, it would seem, Bobby Waugh, who has been dealt with by the courts and has surely given up any right to such protection through that process. The only conclusion is that Defra is again trying to find something to hide behind, rather than publish information that might further incriminate the appalling way ministers and senior officials handled this plague. And if Mr Dring's soul searching admission that he could have prevented the disaster did not belong in the public domain before a lessons learned inquiry, what on earth did?
Two years ago, the Western Morning News went to the High Court to try to force the Government to hold a full public inquiry into the way it mishandled the foot and mouth disaster. We and the farming community, who took the action with us, argued that the failure to call such an inquiry was illegal and that the Government's own inquiries, taking evidence in secret, would fail to expose the full facts about this awful disease. We lost the case. These latest revelations prove we were right. Foot and mouth disease cost around #2.7 billion to bring under control. The hated contiguous cull, in which perfectly healthy animals were killed in an almost medieval attempt to stop the spread of the virus, contributed massively to that bill. Many now believe that it was unnecessary and that, in its haste to clear the decks for a looming General Election that had already been postponed once, New Labour panicked and over-reacted.
Vaccination, the alternative to culling out uninfected but "at risk" animals, was never tried because of the fears, expressed by the National Farmers Union at national level, that it might damage Britain's beef export market. But because of BSE, the overseas sales of British beef were already on the floor and worth barely #500,000 a year. Millions were wasted, lives were ruined, families were devastated and the countryside laid waste to save a #500,000 beef export industry and to ensure Tony Blair's election could go ahead when he wanted. That's the accusation from the countryside which has still to be tested by a full public inquiry. Jim Dring's bombshell about the day he inspected a Northumberland pig farm has turned the spotlight on all of that once more. It's still not too late for a proper examination of the evidence, by a robust chairman, sitting in public and with the power to call everyone to account. Is that still worth doing? Just ask the innocent victims of foot and mouth. And they will also tell you that this is not just about securing the justice to which they are entitled but also about making sure it never, ever, happens again.