Subject: Damning Evidence by Mart!

Report by NICK GREEN Cumbria 
On the evening after the Appleby FMD Inquiry meeting, regarded by the press as the most emotionally charged meeting so far, I listened to the Chairman of Longtown Markets speak out today in a charged and damning fashion.
Longtown markets, regarded as the epicentre of the disease and unfairly criticised by both MAFF and Blair, had the chance to fight back and indeed they did!
The Chairman accused both Blair and MAFF of lying and covering up major issues during FMD 2001. One example of MAFF incompetence was after Longtowm Markets had printed off all the stock movements for  a given period and delivered them to MAFF in the naive hope that they would trace all these movements to aid tracking down the disease.
No chance! MAFF/now DEFRA, the most hated Government department ever and proven incompetents, LOST the movements and Longtown Markets were asked for a re-print MONTHS later! It was also noted, as a matter of record, that many of the employees at the mart. who regularly handled the supposedly infected sheep, returned to their own farms at night. Few had contracted the disease!
Also, disturbingly, we hear this evening that NO FUNDING is available in Cumbria to enable the TB testing programme to be conducted in a timely fashion! This testing is expected to last another 7 MONTHS! With cattle now turned out to grass, could Cumbrian stock again be staring into the abyss?
DEFRA "supremo" and champion caravaner Margaret Becket stated in the commons today that she was not aware of the situation in Cumbria! Nothing new there then!

Cumbria County Council:

16 May 2002

Independent Foot and Mouth Inquiry hears of the heartbreak

Heartbreaking tales of experiences during last year's foot and mouth disease outbreak were told last night to members of Cumbria's Independent Foot and Mouth Inquiry Panel. Members of the Panel, headed by chairman Professor Phil Thomas, listened to a series of personal stories from many of the 80 people at a meeting in Appleby Public Hall.

Most were of individual tragedy of farmers losing their stock and local businesses collapsing but also of the impact on smallholdings. People who kept a few agricultural animals, such as sheep, for a hobby also told how they felt the full weight of officialdom in the same way as the commercial farmers.

MAFF, the then Ministry of Agriculture, now the Department for Rural Affairs, was again the target for widespread criticism in the way it handled the outbreak and the burden of paperwork it imposed on farmers. Many complained that decisions such as whether an individual was a dangerous contact or not were made in London, where there was a lack of local knowledge. The meeting was the third of four being held by the Independent Panel across the county this week and was the most emotional so far.

Feelings are expected to run even higher tonight at the last meeting in the series in the Memorial Hall at Longtown, which was the branded the epicentre of the outbreak. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

The ten-strong panel resume formal hearings at Carlisle Civic Centre from May 28 to May 31.

See also Elaine's report of the same meeting