Case - Parliamentary Ombudsman.      Foot and Mouth Disease

           (Name and address supplied to warmwell) 

The  following statement is made purely to give all the details surrounding our case:-

MAFF (DEFRA) did actually try to slaughter our animals but there is no official record, in our FMD file from MAFF, of the 2 telephone conversations and the meeting at County Hall with MAFF officials, regarding the issue of slaughter.

As we saved our animals and there is no proof of the methods used to try to persuade us to allow our animals to be slaughtered we are not  in a position to complain about issues surrounding the intended slaughter of our animals.

Brief Outline of Background

 From April 3rd 2001 to 19th July 2001 our farm was under movement restrictions because it  was within 3 km of 3 premises said to be infected with foot and mouth disease (FMD).

 The movement restrictions prevented us from moving cattle to our grazing fields away from  the main holding (E--- Farm) and from selling calves at 3 weeks of age, as we would normally do.

We have since discovered that had MAFF (DEFRA) followed the correct procedures as outlined in EU directive 85/511/EEC, our farm would only have needed to be under restrictions for a maximum of 2 weeks.

 Description of Events

On 3rd April 2001 our farm was said to be in a 3km protection zone, that is within 3 km of a  farm confirmed as having foot and mouth disease and we were issued with a Form D.

 By 8th April our farm was within a 3km protection zone for  two other farms (FMD 2001/ 1105 and 1121).

 Through telephone conversations with neighbours it became apparent that none of the 3 cases of FMD had been confirmed at laboratory test.

 We began to wonder why we remained under movement restrictions. On 23 May 2001, a vet made a  'pre-lift record inspection'.  We were told this visit was part of the procedure for lifting of movement restrictions.  We assumed, wrongly, that restrictions would soon be lifted and made several telephone calls to the local MAFF office ( Worcester)  to find out when.

We could not get a satisfactory answer from Worcester, and as a result there were occasions when I got very angry with the staff. It became apparent that they really could not answer fairly basic questions because they did not know the answers. After several frustrating telephone calls, I suggested they put me in touch with someone who could answer my questions.( Looking back had I not been persistent and angry I do not think they would have  put me in touch with Page Street).

I was given the contact details for Jon Townley (MAFF, Page Street) and I was also sent an application form for a movement licence for animals from a farm under Form D restrictions.

I spoke to Mr Townley who was very helpful and asked me to put my details in writing which I did ( letter enclosed).

I also wrote a letter ( and sent it to the Worcester Office) explaining that we could not truthfully fill in the form to apply for a movement licence as the movement was not necessary for welfare reasons and was not within 10 km of our farm (letter enclosed). 

In my letter I threatened to move the animals anyway. We had no intention of illegally moving the animals but it was the only way we could think of, of  ensuring we got a quick reply. ( refer to MAFF faxes- it obviously prompted the desired response). We had by this time been under restrictions for 2 months.

 I received a telephone call from MAFF now DEFRA  ( I think it was Jon Townley) requesting that we did not move the animals, and that we would receive a full reply to my  letter of 7th June 2001.

 

We agreed not to move the animals.

 

DEFRA's letter duly arrived ( dated 12 June 2001), explaining the situation. The reply was misleading and did not rectify the situation. It was misleading in so far as, under EU legislation there was no outbreak of FMD in T---on, and DEFRA could have removed Form D movement restrictions immediately and rectified the situation but they choose not to.

Movement Restrictions were finally lifted on 19th July 2001.

 What DEFRA Failed to do

In April 2002 I ordered  our FMD file from DEFRA.  The file contained the detail I needed to show that DEFRA had not followed correct procedures the previous year.

Until I received our file my  evidence was hersay, I only discovered that I could request our file when I contacted the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.

 Under EU Directive 85/511/EEC  Article 4 (1) DEFRA are obliged to ensure that, on discovery of an animal suspected of being infected or of being contaminated with FMD, official means of investigation to confirm or rule out the presence of disease are set in motion immediately and, in particular,  that the official veterinarian takes the necessary samples, or has them taken, for laboratory examination.

 (Refer to  letter from J S Gillgan 8 June 2001 to Victoria Read  point 2)

There was no justification for not sampling Infected premises (IP) 924 and 1121. The term 'confirmed on clinical grounds' means no laboratory samples were taken.

IP 1105 is not under EU legislation an infected premises because the presence of disease was ruled out at laboratory test.

IPs 924, 1105 and 1121 are the 3 IPs within 3 km of our farm.

 Under EU legislation Directive 85/511/EEC Article 5 (3) if IPs 924 and 1121 could be epidemiologically linked to a primary source for which samples had already been taken, more samples from 924 and 1121 were not needed and a clinical diagnosis would suffice.

Clearly ( refer to DEFRA - History of the Epidemic) as 'tracings failed to identify a source for the Worcester cluster'  there is no infected premises with positive laboratory test results with which to link IPs 924 and 1121.

Under EU legislation 85/511/EEC our farm was at no time throughout the epidemic within 3 kms of an infected premises, therefore, we should only have been under Form D movement restrictions for the period of time required to 'rule out the presence of disease' at laboratory test on IPs 924, 1105 and 1121.

Being under Form D movement restrictions, unnecessarily, from 17 April to 19 July resulted in additional direct costs of £1800.

The whole experience left us depressed and traumatised to the point where we found it difficult to do a full days work, as a result we had to employ a contractor to help us, costing £2500. 

Supporting Documents

 

Disease control system- showing details relating to our farm (2 pages)

Letter to Mr Townley

Letter to Licence section Worcs.

Fax sent from Jon Townley to Victoria Read  7/06/01

Letter sent from J S Gillgan to Victoria Read 8/06/01

Fax sent from Victoria Read to J S Gillgan 8/06/01

Letter received from Lara Jankel MAFF legal Department

EU Directive 85/511/EEC

Pages 24 and 27 of DEFRA's History of the Epidemic - I have the complete 62 page document.