THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP PRESS RELEASE: 5 November 2001

ROYAL SOCIETY INQUIRY INTO FMD IS A FOREGONE CONCLUSION

Sir Brian Follett, Chairman of the RS Inquiry, has already made his views known on many of the key issues of the Inquiry, even though the Call for Detailed Evidence was only issued 3 weeks ago and the closing date for submissions is not until the 30 November 2001.

Speaking to farmers in Cumbria Sir Brian Follett said "If anything, all the evidence points that we should continue with the present approach." He dismissed the prospect of protecting British livestock through vaccination, saying vaccination was not available. He also said that vaccination might not be possible for a decade.

The NFMG Group and Compassion in World Farming had arranged for two leading world scientists in FMD, Dr Simon Barteling and Dr Paul Sutmoller to present evidence to the Inquiry. Both scientists have widespread experience in controlling FMD throughout the world and in the use of vaccination to assist control. As yet the Inquiry has not heard any evidence from either of them.

The Group, who had also been preparing other evidence to submit to the Inquiry, are dismayed. "We have been drawing together leading scientists, vets and other experts to present our case believing the Inquiry to be independent and were reassured at the scope and extent of the issues set out in the Detailed Call for Evidence; vaccination being specifically mentioned. We now hear that the Chairman of the Inquiry has already made up his mind on many of the issues. We will be contacting Geoffrey Findlay, the secretariat to the Inquiry to find out exactly what is going on."

Janet Bayley, who has been co-ordinating the expert submissions said "We have liased with the Inqury in good faith and believed it to be fair and independent, but to determine the outcome before hearing all the evidence has shattered our belief in its integrity. The Committee to the Inquiry has not met since issuing the Call for Detailed Evidence, so how can it have reached any conclusions?"

The Call for Detailed Evidence specifically asked for views on vaccination, the issue of Disease Free Status, how effective were disease surveillance systems and diagnosis, and what methods of control for FMD should be adopted.

We have learned today that the Inquiry has already heard from Jim Scudamore and Prof David King, and Prof Anderson of Imperial College, Ben Gill and the the BVA and BCVA are also due to be heard. However, despite assurances from the Secretariat that Dr Sutmoller and Dr Barteling would be asked to attend the Inquiry, they have not been approached.

The pronouncments of Sir Brian Follett has already pre-empted the findings and the conclusion of the Inquiry. It has also called into question the validity and purpose of the Inquiry if the outcome is already determined. At this stage in the Inquiry we are surprised to hear the Committe Chairman expressing any views at all, before all the evidence has been submitted. We will also be contacting DEFRA to determine how the Government now intends to proceed.

Contacts:

Janet Bayley 01285. 644319 / 01285 656812

Peter Woods - Vets for Vaccination 01452 523534 / 01452 520056

.

Dr Barteling & Dr Sutmoller can be contacted via the National Foot & Mouth Group