28th January 2002
It is now well known that the handling of the 2001 FMD crisis in the UK was handled incompetently. At times we had to question if "The right hand new what the left hand was doing"! As more evidence arrives daily the situation was probably much worse than we had imagined. A recent phone call to Mr Roy Hathaway, Head, Foot & Mouth Division Area: 2/02aA, 1A Page Street, London (0207 904 6019) causes me to ask more questions than were answered.
I phoned Hathaway the week beginning 14th January 2002. This was my second conversation with him. My purpose on both occasions was to obtain clarification concerning the 3km cull & firebreak policies conducted in Cumbria. Please note that I received a leaked memo from Hathaway dated 6 November 2001. I have copies of this Memo should interested parties wish to peruse it and the memo and my comments can be reviewed on www.Heartofcumbria.co.uk. The Memo was sent to Mr Elliot Morley MP & Mr Ray Anderson, DEFRA Area manager for Cumbria.
The main thrust of the memo was that there was NO Voluntary cull in Cumbria.
However, although the memo was sent to Mr Morley on 6 November 2001, Morley stated on November 11th 2001, some 5 days later:-
"At the present time we have no powers for a firebreak cull. There was the 3km cull in Cumbria but that was a voluntary cull and people were invited to participate in that."
This opens a number of questions:-
- Did Morley receive Hathaway`s Memo dated 6th November 2001.
- If he did, and we have no reason to believe that he did not, why did Morley lie to the Commons Select Committee Meeting?
- If Morley did not lie, then did Hathaway? Clearly one of them did!
- Is this another example of inter-departmental incompetence?
- Does Morley fully understand the difference between a firebreak cull and a 3km cull?
- Was the 3km cull illegal?
- Why was the 3km & contiguous cull invoked when Alex Donaldson and Paul Kitching (IAH Pirbright & ex Pirbright) both stated there was clearly no scientific evidence for the policy. In particular, airborne transmission of the virus was much less than 3km. In fact an average distance would appear to be 100 metres!
I wanted to question Hathaway on these matters. His replies were as follows:-
1. Neither himself (Hathaway) or Morley had lied.
2. The 3km. Cull was legal.
3. The firebreak cull WAS illegal.
4. Morley was wrong to make the statements concerning the firebreak culls. They were NOT VOLUNTARY and were illegal.
5. Morley was wrong to state that the 3km. Cull was voluntary.
6. DEFRA & the Government are attempting to pass the new Animal Health Bill to make future firebreak culls legal.
7. The 3km cull was based on "The movements of animals, humans & vehicles NOT the airborne spread"!!!
8. The CVO, Scudamore had sworn a witness statement to confirm the above.
Interestingly, Hathaway wrote on 6th November 2001 :-
"As you know the 3km cull was predicated on the CVO`s advice that the animals concerned were exposed to FMD infection. The cull was therefore carried out under the slaughter & compensation provisions of the AHA 1981. The CVO swore a witness statement to this effect in a separate judicial review case in March (Kindersley) which the department won."
This is a lie! The Department did not win the case, Kindersley withdrew.
- Further, did Scudamore base the 3km prediction and cull on airborne spread in March? It certainly appears that way, based on press releases & MAFF meetings during that period. We now know that the airborne spread was minimal. (Donaldson Report), SO, when did Scudamore change the "science" and state that the 3km cull was based on "The movements of animals, humans & vehicles NOT the airborne spread"!!! Or was this a retrospective comment made when the original policy was so clearly scientifically wrong?
In summary we require the following answers:-
- Why is Morley stating one thing & Hathaway another?
- On what science did Scudamore employ in his sworn witness statement that animals will become infected within 3km? Was it based on airborne spread or that of stock, people & vehicles? When did this policy change?
- Finally, we know that the firebreak cull was illegal & that the 3km cull may well have been.
- As the firebreak cull was illegal, how and when will those civil servants that invoked the cull be held responsible and tried in a court of law? After all, the policy, as admitted by both Morley & Hathaway, was illegal! What compensation will be paid by HM Government to all rural people that endured the very real horrors of these culls?
Warmwell note: the memo can be seen on this page
Finally, were they really acting on BEST SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE?:-
Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 June 2001]: As at 22 October a total of 7,294 Dangerous Contacts (DC) and 255 Slaughter on Suspicion (SOS) cases, which had not been recognised as Infected Premises, had laboratory tests conducted. Of these, five yielded positive results and subsequently became IPs and were recorded as such.
That is 7549 premises. And 5 of them showed evidence of the presence of active virus.