FREEDOM IN ACTION
'Men have sometimes been led by degrees, sometimes hurried into things, of which, if they could have seen the whole together, they would never have permitted the most remote approach. The people never give up their liberties except under some delusion.' - Edmund Burke c. 1790
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From: JOHN GOURIET psc FRGS Chairman 1400hrs 4 June 2001
IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE - FMD BRIEF ON SITUATION IN DEVON
Leading Conservative, Angela Browning bravely joined A 'TRUTH' rally outside MAFF HQ in Exeter yesterday and spoke most forthrightly as a former MAFF minister. Three of us spent an hour with Mr. Greg-Smith, SW Regional director of MAFF. He sheltered behind 'Government Policy and veterinary opinion'. I have been co-ordinating resistance nationally to the illegal culling of healthy animals since March and have confronted MAFF slaughter squads on three occasions, the most recent being yesterday afternoon - a Sunday, supposedly a day of rest! Their tactics of intimidation often for days on end, culminating in surprise arrival with overwhelming force are being repeated everywhere.
In the idyllic Devon village of Knowestone, basking peacefully in the sunshine, a MAFF squad suddenly descended on Gordon Wilmett, a farmer in his 70s, to kill his daughter's healthy cattle. They were on their 20th day since his sheep had been culled on suspicion and 'dangerous contact' following the fiasco of MAFF shooting wildly at stampeding bullocks. The incubation period for FMD is 14 days. Cattle almost invariably show clinical signs of infection within 3-6 days. Mr. Wilmett's heifers had been declared fit every two days since 14th May, most recently being last Friday 1st June. MAFF used an unidentified positive sheep sample as an excuse to try to force their way on yesterday afternoon, having declared the farm an 'infected area'. Mr. Wilmett was threatened with arrest if he resisted. Former High Sheriff of Somerset, Christopher Thomas-Everard, I and others told the police that they would have to arrest us all. I discussed this case at length with Mr. Greg-Smith first in his office and later on the telephone as well as with the MAFF duty lawyer. I have also discussed it with the police. The police are required to uphold the law, ensure that there is no breach of the peace and support MAFF in carrying out their legal tasks. They are not there to uphold illegal activities, but have so far tended to accept MAFF's word. They have not apparently appreciated that MAFF in many cases are acting contrary to the Animal Health Act 1981 and EU directives that prohibit the culling of healthy animals. Inspector Woodley of the Bideford Constabulary, persuaded MAFF to withdraw yesterday evening, and we hoped, vainly as it turned out, that MAFF would go to court to seek an injunction which we would have resisted vigorously, Mr. Wilmett having won in the High Court during last week. Instead MAFF and police turned up in such strength this morning at 5.45am, Mr Wilmett was overwhelmed and within four hours his healthy stock were slaughtered.
Tomorrow in the same village, Mr. Phillips a young man in his mid-thirties has been told his healthy animals are to be culled as contiguous. Tomorrow is seven days since his partner died of cancer. Her funeral had already been arranged for the following week. He is distraught with grief and on tranquillisers. He has threatened to shoot anyone who tries to enter his land and possibly himself, despite having two young children.
There are endless cases like this. This intimidation and illegal activity is causing enormous hurt, resentment and divisiveness. The countryside is seething, boiling over with rage. Civil disobedience, even civil war is looming. If persistent rumours coming in from all over the country about the accelerated cull immediately after the election are even half-true, Britain could become ungovernable. Dartmoor and Exmoor are to be scorched next. Even the police agree this has little to do with the disease and is all about politics! Blair has claimed he is in control. He must be held to account. Daily cases have fallen to 3-4, the killing rate per day has doubled to 60,000 since the peak of 40 cases. This is what Mr. Blair is about - eradication not of the disease, that is the excuse, but the livestock industry in this country on orders from Brussels. In future we will be fed on cheap European imports! ENDS
Jane Barribal - Farmtalking.com