157

separate references from eminent sources, quoted on this website, 2001- 2002 calling for a proper public inquiry.

 

(The following 6 entries from the Lords Debate on Tuesday 26th March )

Lord Peyton of Yeovil:

My Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moran, who moved the amendment so ably. As he was kind enough to say, I had had thoughts of tabling a similar Motion. On reflection, I thought that it would come very much better from a noble Lord on the Cross Benches rather than from a somewhat more committed opponent of the Government. .............Even more valuable would have been the report of a public inquiry, had the Government not run away from one. Had they not done so, they would now have the advantage of being able to say, as few governments can say with honesty, "We listened and we learned". The criticism that they face today would at least have lost some of its edge.

Lord Monro of Langholm:

My Lords, I warmly support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Moran, in his excellent speech. In a moment, I should like to expand a little on what my noble friend Lord Peel said about Scotland. .............. A year ago, many of us called for a public inquiry and continued to do so all through last summer and autumn. Eventually, the Government refused to hold one and went ahead with their own separate inquiries with the obvious intention of minimising the criticism that they were bound to receive for their handling of the whole affair......

Lord Jopling:

......About a year ago I was one of the first to ask for a broad public inquiry on similar lines to the Northumberland committee of 1967. I was in the House of Commons at that time. I remember it vividly. At that time I said that I thought a public inquiry should start at once. My noble friend Lord Plumb was a member of the Northumberland committee. His distinction over matters of this sort as a former president of the European Parliament and of the National Farmers Union, confirm that his credentials to lead that committee were irrefutable. When I asked for an immediate start to the public inquiry it never occurred to me that there would not be one sooner or later. But I believed that it ought to start straightaway. I was totally astonished when the Government refused to have a similar inquiry to the one which Fred Peart set up when he was Minister for Agriculture all those years ago. ......

Baroness Miller:

.....Beyond the matter of import controls, I return to the issue of the public inquiry, which is the subject of another amendment to the Bill. However, despite calls from all sides of the House and from all over the country, the Government have dug in their heels and have refused to allow a public inquiry. Thus, at the moment, the Floor of the House is probably the most public place in which we are likely to get any answers to our questions. ....

Baroness Byford:

...... The second part of the noble Lord's Motion deals specifically with the government inquiries into the foot-and-mouth outbreak. The Government should hold a proper, independent public inquiry. They should wait until such inquiries have been completed and reported; and, as several noble Lords have said, such findings should be incorporated in the legislation. In fact, looking at the situation logically, if we go ahead with the Bill today it will not complete its passage through both Houses of Parliament until the time when both inquiries will report. Therefore, is it not logical to wait until such inquiries have reported, so as to have something firm upon which to build? If proceedings on the Bill go ahead today, we shall press that argument strongly during its passage. ....

Lord Pearson of Rannoch:

My Lords, is the Government's mind open to the concept of a full, honest and open public inquiry into this matter? Or is that something the Government will not accept during the Committee stage?

THE QUESTIONS THAT BLAIR MUST ANSWER

Western Morning News

And on the crucial issues, from the possibility of vaccination to the controversial contiguous cull policy, it was the Prime Minister who was making the decisions. It stands to reason, therefore, that it should be Mr Blair who stands in the dock to face tough questioning about how he arrived at those decisions. And he should be doing so, not in Brussels before a committee of MEPs set up by the European Parliament, but in London before a properly constituted, fully accountable public inquiry with the power to demand his attendance. The fact that Mr Blair has been able to rule out such an inquiry - now supported by a court following the judicial review hearing, backed by the Western Morning News - is a matter of enormous regret. It's also more than regrettable that Mr Blair himself is unlikely to be called before the European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry and even less likely to turn up if he were called.
March 30

People still want to know the truth

Western Mail

THE failure of the legal action by a group of farmers to force the Government to hold a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth outbreak, has come as a bitter blow to everyone concerned. ............ As yet it is unsure if this will be the end of the legal road. To take the matter to the final stage - the House of Lords - will cost an estimated £750,000, and people are struggling to come to terms with the thousands of pounds they have already lost. But if the Government thinks that the campaign for a public inquiry will now go away, they are sorely mistaken. Even one of the judges, Lord Justice Simon Brown, said, "The court does not give the impression that it itself regards the decision to hold the Lessons Learned Inquiry in closed session as necessarily the right decision. "It is, to my mind, pre-eminently a political decision, and one for which the Government will ultimately have to answer at the ballot box." The foot-and-mouth epidemic ruined so many lives, people are not going to just give up. They want to know the truth.
March 19 02


Lost Challenge
warmwell website

"I think it important, however, that in dismissing these applications the court does not give the impression that it itself regards the decision to hold the Lessons Learned Inquiry in closed session as necessarily the 'right' decision."

F&M: Name the guilty

Cumberland News and Star

SO Cumbria is going to hold its own inquiry into foot and mouth. Like Northumberland and Devon, before it, it will founder because it will be snubbed by Defra and the government. One of the reasons given by the government for not holding its own public inquiry is to avoid a witch-hunt, suggesting that, somehow, a public inquiry will point the finger at innocent people. If, however, a witch-hunt means pointing the finger at the guilty persons, the people who made the mistakes and allowed the situation to get out of hand - the people who were afraid to take decisions and sat by and did nothing - then I am all for a witch-hunt. The fact that this government is prepared to tolerate the Jo Moores of this world gives some indication of their worries.
March 1 02


250,000 in call for foot and mouth inquiry

Telegraph

By Robert Uhlig, Farming Correspondent A PETITION with more than 250,000 signatures calling for a public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis was presented to Bill Cash, the shadow attorney general, yesterday. It was delivered by Lady Sara Apsley following outrage that Margaret Beckett, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, has refused to call a public inquiry into last year's devastating epidemic. Lady Apsley is determined that the Government should not get away with the "massive cover-up we all know has taken place".
March 1 02


Number 10's philosophy - irritable male syndrome

Telegraph

By Alice Thompson ....He has condoned a witchhunt into the leaking in Stephen Byers's office that caused the severance contracts of two media mouthpieces. But he refuses to hold an official inquiry into foot and mouth, ... His approach to the plague that swept Britain was dictated by the timing of the election. There was no planning, no vision. The countryside was opened and closed more times than a five-bar gate.
March 1 02


Post mortem

Telegraph

WILL New Labour get away with not allowing a full public inquiry into its (mis)handling of last year's foot and mouth crisis? Not if Lady Apsley - who has spent months gathering 250,000 signatures demanding just such an investigation - has anything to do with it. The Apsley petition will arrive outside the House of Commons today in a horse-drawn hearse. "We've got an undertaker to lead the way as the coffin, which is marked `The Death of Truth', is carried up the steps," she tells me. "We're really hoping that this will give the Government the shivers." Shadow attorney general Bill Cash, who will formally present the petition to Parliament, says confidently: "If we do get the inquiry, there will be no way out for the Government."
Feb 28

Democracy is at stake in call for full inquiry

icWales

Last week, the case for a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth outbreak was heard at the High Court in London. Here Mark Hinge, the Countryside Alliance's political director in Wales, takes a look at the judicial review and outlines why he believes an inquiry is a democratic right. DURING the Middle Ages, witch-hunts in Britain ended in a ritual of fire, smoke and ashes. In recent times, with the foot-and-mouth crisis, the people of Wales have seen enough similar sights - burning pyres of rotting animal carcasses. Although foot-and-mouth is no longer in the mind of the general public, it is very much in the minds of rural people. Those same people are not seeking a ritual burning-at-the-stake, they just want simple answers.
...Feb 27

Shadow DEFRA Secretary Addresses Tenant Farmers' Assoc.

Press release

Speaking to the Tenant Farmers' Association today (12 February 2002), the Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Peter Ainsworth MP, said: "There remain many questions to be answered by the Government over its handling of Foot and Mouth. When, precisely, did Ministers first become aware that the disease had broken out? Why was there a three-day delay in imposing a total movement ban? Why were Ministers so slow in grasping the need for urgent action? Why was there no contingency plan in place? Why didn't they mobilise local vets? Why did they rule out vaccination? Why was chaos allowed to develop before the army was finally called in to help with the disposal of carcasses? Was contiguous culling carried out legally? Who drew up the maps on which the culling was based? Why does the Prime Minister refer all enquiries to Defra when it was he who assumed personal responsibility for managing the outbreak? "What is certain is that the Prime Minister's stance on the issue of a Full Public Inquiry into Foot and Mouth has done nothing whatever to heal the growing rift between Government and countryside which was already all too visible before the last Election."

Foot and mouth policy rapped

Journal

By The Evening Chronicle ...... The report is the result of a five-day independent inquiry last month led by Prof Michael Dower. The inquiry was called by Northumberland County Council to investigate the way the outbreak was handled and devise a route to recovery from the economic devastation it brought to farms and other businesses. Prof Dower's report is expected to support critics of the decision to dump thousands of carcasses in one part of Widdrington village and cremate thousands of others in another part of the same village. Some of the 70 witnesses who gave evidence to the inquiry demanded that Widdrington is made a special case for compensation in view of the legacy it will have to live with for many years. The report is understood to be critical of the way the outbreak was handled, first by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food and then the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, which took over from it. Defra is also criticised for its refusal to send anyone to give evidence to the inquiry, held at Morpeth, which was called after the Government's much-criticised refusal to hold a public inquiry of its own into the outbreak. ......
Feb 26

Inquiry decision expected soon

FWi

HIGH COURT judges are set to decide whether the government should hold a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth epidemic. After four days of evidence at the High Court in London, the judges reserved judgement saying that they needed time to consider their ruling. Lawyers for 12 farmers and rural businessmen had argued that the decision to opt for a three private inquiries instead of a full public airing was "irrational". They also argued that the refusal to hold a full public inquiry violated the fundamental human right to freedom of information. Media organisations, including five national newspapers, also played a part in the judicial review challenge, defending their right to send reporters to an inquiry.
Feb 23

Court hears Government's refusal breaches human rights

BBC Devon

Mr Gordon said movement restrictions triggered by the crisis and interference with rural livelihoods amounted to breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights Judges have delayed their decision on whether the Government should be forced into holding a full public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis. After a four-day High Court hearing, the judges said they would give a ruling "as soon as possible." Lawyers arguing for a public inquiry into the outbreak say the Government's refusal breaches human rights. Richard Gordon QC, who is representing some of the farmers, told the court on Wednesday that the state had a positive obligation to hold an effective investigation.

Labour silent on foot and mouth inquiry

Telegraph

THE Government refused yesterday to disclose the conditions of appointment of Dr Iain Anderson, the chairman of the Lessons to be Learned inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis, after he suggested that his powers had been curtailed to prevent him revealing ministerial mistakes. Lawyers .... made a renewed application to see the letter appointing Dr Anderson, a former adviser to Tony Blair.... They applied for an order that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should disclose the letter of appointment after it emerged that Dr Anderson told a meeting at Okehampton, Devon, last month that evidence from ministers and senior officials would not be published in his report.
Feb 22

Foot and mouth: the blunders

Sunday Times

Before the foot and mouth outbreak ravaged British farming, the government received a clear scientific warning of the danger. It failed to act. And after disaster struck, the decisions it made only increased and prolonged the crisis. Jonathan Leake reports Five months before the worst disaster ever to hit British farming struck, John Ryan took the floor at a United Nations agriculture conference and delivered a stark message. Millions of animals were likely to die, the Irish veterinary scientist warned, and livestock farming was threatened with devastation. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) was certain to hit Europe, warned Ryan, and the impact could be worse than ever before. The doomsaying could not have been blunter and yet, as a Sunday Times investigation into the FMD disaster reveals, the British authorities took no heed. And when the epidemic did strike, they were chronically unprepared and fatally disorganised. As the disease finally peters out, the government has refused to hold an inquiry into the epidemic. If it did, it would reveal a catalogue of blunders:
Dec 23


Grounded

Telegraph

Foot and mouth means Father Christmas will be unable to use his reindeer to help with deliveries in England and Wales this year, says Robin Page ..... It is true that reindeer have cloven hooves and so can get foot and mouth, in theory, yet, whenever I have spoken to Defra about the possibility of wild deer spreading foot and mouth during the current epidemic, it has dismissed the idea. So if wild deer in Devon and Cumbria have played no part in spreading foot and mouth, and only a proper public inquiry will tell us otherwise, why does Defra believe that strictly supervised and monitored reindeer will now spread foot and mouth?
Dec 22


Farmers' plea to Rural Rebels

BBC

Scotland's farming leaders have called for talks with the controversial campaign group Rural Rebels amid fears that its tactics could damage countryside causes. The National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) expressed doubts over the group's strategy of causing disruption and said these measures may be too simplistic and counter productive. The union said it was important that the group did not drive a wedge between rural and urban communities and hoped talks would clear up any areas of concern. More than 20 organisations are reported to have joined the broadband Rural Rebels campaign in a bid to secure, what they say, is a better deal for the countryside from politicians. The umbrella group has used a variety of tactics to publicise demands for an independent public inquiry into foot-and-mouth disease, the right to peaceful country pursuits and the right to educate country children in country schools.
Dec 20


Country rebels threaten blockade

The Scotsman

David Scott Scottish Government Editor (dscott@scotsman.com)
COUNTRYSIDE campaigners are planning a mass rally of up to 10,000 people in Edinburgh this weekend as a warning to the executive not to ignore the concerns of Scotland's rural community. Details of the "March on the Mound," to be held on Sunday, were unveiled yesterday by the Scottish Countryside Alliance. Another group, Rural Rebels, said they planned to block roads between Scotland and England at lunchtime on Friday................ Announcing plans for the protest on Sunday, the Scottish Countryside Alliance warned politicians to "heed the rising level of rural protest". Allan Murray, a director of the SCA, said countryside demonstrations were likely to increase over the coming months because those involved in rural issues felt they were being let down by the political process. The alliance aims to highlight a number of issues, including opposition to the proposed ban on hunting with dogs, calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of foot-and-mouth and concerns over new rules on land access rights.
Dec 13


Thousands back call for virus inquiry

Farmers Weekly

By Mike Stones
MORE than 112,000 people have pledged support to our joint campaign for a full public inquiry into the causes and handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis. In response to requests from our readers, FARMERS WEEKLY launched its campaign in mid-July. Later that month, we joined forces with Horse & Hound magazine to lobby our combined readership. In August, both magazines teamed up with leading regional newspapers Western Morning News in Plymouth, The Western Mail in Cardiff and The Journal in Newcastle. Together we attracted massive support for a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth from rural and urban readers alike. FARMERS WEEKLY alone attracted nearly 25,000 signatures. "Never before in our 67-year history has the magazine commanded such keen support from so many readers," said FARMERS WEEKLY editor Stephen Howe. Campaign support grew after the government announced in August its three independent inquiries and a policy commission. The editors of FARMERS WEEKLY, Horse & Hound and the three regional newspapers will deliver your signatures to Downing Street as soon as a date can be agreed with Number Ten. "We are looking forward to letting the Prime Minister know precisely how the country feels about his decision to hold foot-and-mouth inquiries behind closed doors. "Only the international crisis has prevented us from delivering them early this autumn," said Mr Howe. Dec 7

Inquiry - "Chances of winning are high"

Farmers Weekly

CHANCES of winning legal action to force a public inquriy into the foot-and-mouth crisis are more than 60%, says legal expert. "We believe we can show the government was wrong not to respond to requests to hold a public inquiry into its handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis," said Tim Russ, head of the agricultural law team at west-country firm Clarke Willmott Clarke. A chance to persuade a judge to order the government to hold a public inquiry will come next February during a judicial review of the government's decision at London's High Court. Two other legal teams, Gabb and Co of Wales and Bristol-based Burges Salmon, are gathering evidence with Clarke Willmott Clarke on behalf of claimants who suffered hardship due to the crisis. After hearing evidence supporting pleas for a public inquiry and the opposing view from a Defra law team, the judge will decide whether to order ministers to open a public inquiry. A Defra spokeswoman said the department would defend the government's decision to hold two independent inquiries and a policy commission in the aftermath of foot-and-mouth. FARMERS WEEKLY has pledged to support part of the costs of the legal action in association with Western Morning News and The Western Mail. To support the campaign, with pledges of money or evidence, contact Tim Russ at Clarke Willmott Clarke, Blackbrook Gate, Park Avenue, Taunton, TA1 2PG (phone 01823 445218; fax 01823-445816) Dec 7

warmwell.com

Home page

Nov 29 ~ Today's Meeting at the House of Commons was considered a success by its participants. At the end, a resolution proposed and seconded to Committee Room 8, packed with senior vets, lawyers, MPs, peers and supporters, was that "This House opposes the Animal Health amendment bill". It was passed unanimously. There were no abstentions. Calls for a proper public inquiry into the handling of the disease were also made by many, including Peter Ainsworth and Baroness Byford, and were applauded.

Minister rejects epidemic inquiry

This is Lancashire

EAST Lancashire MP Nigel Evans is to keep up the pressure for a full scale public inquiry into the foot and mouth epidemic which has devastated the area. He made the pledge after Farming Minister Alun Michael refused his call for an independent probe in a Commons debate. The Ribble Valley Tory said a public inquiry was the only way to find out what happened, how the epidemic was mishandled by the government and to stop it happening again. He condemned Mr Michael's refusal to hold an open investigation as "irresponsible" during a special 90-minute debate he called at Westminster on the issue. But the Minister said the government was holding three separate investigations into how the outbreak occurred, how it spread and how any repeat could be prevented. Mr Evans' call for a lengthy and expensive public inquiry was "totally irresponsible" he claimed. But the Shadow Welsh Secretary was very disappointed and said: "I am appalled and disheartened by the response from the government to this debate. Alun Michael degraded the whole debate with his inadequate response. "He clearly has no sympathy for the farming industry which is still reeling from the impact of foot and mouth. "We will await any action that now follows this debate. The government is scared of the embarrassing revelations that might come from this inquiry -- but they should be afraid of another outbreak of foot and mouth. (Nov 24)

Nov 18 ~ " The Bill's sweeping new powers can be justified only by the findings of an independent PUBLIC INQUIRY, which the government has refused to hold.

Iain Duncan Smith

The bill implies that farmers were to blame for foot and mouth, when evidence suggests that ministers and officials bungled their handling of the crisis. A lack of effective action at the outset was compounded by poor communications and insensitivity, and the disaster spiralled out of control. This Bill will effectively deny farmers any chance to make the case that ministers and officials are acting unreasonably. Moreover, it fails to tighten up on import conditions, meaning that we could import foot and mouth disease again. This Bill would put more power into the hands of the very people that caused the disaster in the first place. By pre-empting the outcome of the Government's own inquiries into foot and mouth, the Bill is both premature and ill-considered." (Iain Duncan-Smith)

From: Roger Wilson, Park Close, Melbourne, York.

Yorkshire Post

Sir, - So Elliot Morley (Letters, November 8) perceives that the major cause of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease is everybody else's fault except the Government's and MAFF (DEFRA). The huge drain on resources and costs was primarily caused because the powers-that-be did not, and still do not, have a national disaster or contingency plan for virulent diseases such as this. No, Elliot Morley. What the public require is not some obscure independent inquiries. Put your money where your mouth is, stop these accusations, and let's have a full PUBLIC INQUIRY. Perhaps then, and only then, will the full truth be known.
Nov 16


Welsh farmers reject animal health bill

icWales

The Farmers' Union of Wales has rejected the Government's new Animal Health Bill - because the union doesn't believe that DEFRA should be given any more powers at present. The new Animal Health Bill proposes to give the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs powers to force farmers to comply with livestock culls in the event of another disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth. The FUW believes that arbitrary powers coupled to the lack of an appeals procedure could breach EU law and the Human Rights Act. "Giving DEFRA even more powers over the lives of farmers before establishing why the disease spread out of control so quickly is like putting a five year old behind the wheel of a Ferrari," said Alan Gardner, who chaired a joint meeting of the union's livestock and hill farming committees. "The only way to resolve this difficult issue is for the Government to order a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into this year's foot and mouth epidemic so that errors can be pinpointed and lessons learned," he said. "Until such an inquiry is held it would be foolish to grant DEFRA any more powers."

Government 'in denial' of its foot and mouth errors

Western Morning News

.... Tony Banks, the former Sport Minister, underlined backbench unease about the sweeping new powers when he abstained from the vote on the Bill's second reading on Monday. He also added his voice to calls for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth (FMD) crisis. Mr Banks, a well-known animal rights campaigner, said it was not right to give extended culling powers to DEFRA officials and other "so-called experts". He added: "The idea that Ministers can order slaughter whether or not animals have been exposed to foot and mouth disease is one that I find wholly unacceptable." Despite the Bill passing its second reading with a large majority, significant concerns were raised about it on all sides of the House of Commons and it is expected to face a tougher time both in committee and in the House of Lords.
Nov 14

Ministers 'dodged big decisions'

FWi

By Isabel Davies MINISTERS have dodged most of the serious policy questions over the past few months by hiding behind the policy commission's report into the future of farming, according to the chairman of the Tenant Farmers' Association (TFA). In a speech at the TFA's annual general meeting on Tuesday (12 February ), Reg Haydon said now the report had been published Defra had to deliver. "A principal benefit of the report's publication is that Defra themselves now have to do some work," he said. "Since coming into existence following the general election in June, it has been able to dodge most of the serious policy questions by deferring to the expected report. "We await with much expectation the government's response which we are told will follow a period of consultation with the industry in March." Mr Haydon said given the extent of the devastation caused by foot-and-mouth, the government had acted "dishonourably" in setting up several inquiries into the matter. While the TFA was wary of demanding a fully constituted public inquiry, it did call for a full public inquiry, completely independent of the government, he said. "What we have been given falls a long way short of our aspirations and feels like a slap in the face to an industry which has suffered so much." Mr Haydon said any hope the inquiries would identify a better way to handle disease outbreaks had been dashed by the contents of the government's Animal Health Bill. "It seeks only to provide ministers with broader powers to slaughter animals and reduce valuations," he said...... FEB 11

Media groups join foot-and-mouth legal battle

Ananova

Five media groups are trying to force the Government to hold a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth epidemic. In a High Court judicial review, farmers and local businesses affected by the outbreak are seeking to overturn a decision by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs. They object to Defra's decision to hold the "lessons to be learned" inquiry behind closed doors. Today, the BBC, Associated Newspapers, Telegraph Group, MGN and Guardian Newspapers were given leave by Mr Justice Maurice Kay to put their case as interested parties under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This relates to freedom of expression and the right to receive and impart information 5 FEB

Anderson inquiry meets the public

icWales

THE Government's Lessons to be Learned foot-and-mouth inquiry moves to Wales tomorrow with a public meeting at the Royal Welsh Showground. Chaired by Dr Iain Anderson, the inquiry is one of three independent inquiries announced by the Government last summer - the two others being a scientific review by the Royal Society and a Policy Commission on the future of farming and the rural economy. Despite calls from the farmers, opposition politicians and the public, the Government has refused to hold a full public inquiry into the world's worst outbreak of the disease. 5 FEB

80 Firms sue over disease

Cheshire on Line

By Stephen Rylance Daily Post Staff
MORE than 80 rural businesses in Cheshire have signed up to a landmark legal battle for Government compensation for the footand-mouth crisis. Members of the Rural Business Campaign claim to be gathering evidence that foot-and-mouth could have broken out as early as December, 2000. They say the Government failed to act until the end of February, 2001, despite being aware of the outbreak and was therefore negligent in its duty to protect rural businesses. They are also pursuing a claim for the Government's alleged mismanagement of the crisis and pressing for a full public inquiry. The Government has denied the claims. The campaign is being represented by London law firm Class Law, which specialises in largescale joint actions....... FEB 5

MEP bids to prevent foot and mouth

This is Staines

THE region's MEP, Dr Caroline Lucas, this week took her place on the European Parliament's public inquiry into the crippling foot and mouth crisis. Surrey's MEP will work with other members of the public inquiry committee to try to establish what lessons should be learned to stop any future outbreaks and disease management policy. Speaking before the launch of the inquiry in Strasbourg, however, Dr Lucas voiced her concern about the government's refusal to hold an independent public inquiry. She said: "It is in all our interests to know what went on, and ensure that the same mistakes are never made again." She also warned that without a full open inquiry and radical reforms to agricultural policies foot and mouth could cause the same devastation again.
posted Jan 27

MOVES START TO SET UP VIRUS PROBE

North West Evening Mail

MOVES have started to set up a Northern regional inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis. Cumbria County Council leader Rex Toft told a council meeting it was clear the government did not intend to hold any form of proper public inquiry into the management of foot-and-mouth. He has started talks with other local authorities in the North with regard to establishing a local inquiry. Councillor Toft said many people in Cumbria did not believe the Anderson inquiry was any substitute for a government-sponsored public inquiry or even a local inquiry and public momentum was building up for a thorough and formal local inquiry. Jan 27


Calls grow for public inquiry into foot-and-mouth crisis

Ananova

The Government is coming under fresh pressure to hold a public inquiry into last year's foot-and-mouth crisis. The call from Professor Ian Mercer, who headed an eight-strong panel into the handling of the disease in Devon, comes in his report. His comments add to criticism of the Government's handling of the crisis in a report from the National Farmers' Union. Prof Mercer says: "There is still a great concern culpability has not been apportioned - a proper legal public inquiry is the only way we can bring anyone to account."
Jan 22


Full public inquiry still the only way

icWales

Jan 22 2002 SADLY, to those at the sharp end of the foot-and-mouth crisis, yesterday's damning report by the National Farmers' Union will have contained few surprises, and confirms what most people know - the handling of the situation was a complete foul-up, with no guarantee it won't happen again. Those who lived through the dark days of the disease know what went on, and local inquiries held in Devon and last week in Northumberland reiterated those points, while the NFU's "Lessons to be Learned" report adds further weight to calls for the Government to hold a full public inquiry. The NFU document takes its name, maybe by chance, from one of the Government's own independent inquiries into the outbreak - "Lessons Learnt", chaired by Sir Ian Anderson. But if the Government thinks this and its two fellow inquiries will satisfy the masses they are sorely mistaken. Surely the Westminster spin doctors can see that to have one big row is a better way to clear the air than a succession of flare-ups. There needs to be one definitive investigation - and a full public inquiry is the only way that can be achieved.
Jan 22


A sorry tale of twisted values

Daily Mail

...... Even now, it is difficult to grasp the scale of the tragedy. This was the worst outbreak the world has ever seen. Six million animals have been, slaughtered, though the majority were not infected. The financial cost could reach +5billion. The human cost is incalculable. And what makes the misery worse is the corrosive - and continuing - suspicion that from day one, the Government was hopelessly out of its depth. For crucial weeks at the beginning, this crisis was left to junior Ministers, while Cabinet heavyweights worked on election planning. Nobody grasped the seriousness of the outbreak. There was confusion over whether carcasses should be buried or burned. And more confusion over whether vaccinating animals was a better solution than culling. In other European countries suffering foot-and-mouth, such as Holland, the disease was brought under control in a matter of weeks through vaccination. ..... The case for a full public inquiry is unanswerable..........
Jan 21

EU disease inquiry in Devon

BBC

............... An inquiry into the causes and consequences of Britain's foot-and-mouth outbreak has also been launched by the European Parliament. On 15 January, a day after Britain was finally declared free of the disease, Euro MPs in Strasbourg voted to set up a "temporary committee" to look at how the disease was handled and how to prevent it happening again. It has a mandate to investigate the outbreak for 12 months before producing a report and recommendations, but it does not have any legal powers. The EU investigation will look into the financial impact of the disease, what caused the outbreak and the implications of vaccination.
Jan 21

Nothing to cheer about - Foot and mouth needs a proper inquiry

Guardian

........ the worst foot and mouth disease outbreak in the memory of world farming. It was an outbreak lasting nearly 11 months, with more than 2,000 confirmed cases in many parts of the country,..... ........ The bigger issue is whether the strategy of mass slaughter was really needed to secure animal and human health, or whether it was prompted more by the need to protect lamb exporters. Neither foot and mouth disease itself nor the vaccination of animals against the disease makes lamb meat unfit for human consumption. Yet in spite of this, the government refused to sanction a vaccination programme. ............... Amid the dead animals, the demoralised farmers, the sceptical consumers and the damaged prestige, there is nothing that can remotely be construed as a victory and every reason why there should now be a comprehensive independent public inquiry into the whole outbreak.
Wednesday January 16, 2002 posted on Jan 18

EU inquiry into foot and mouth

Telegraph

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Robert Uhlig A COALITION of Conservative, Liberal and Green Euro-MPs voted yesterday to launch a year-long inquiry into Britain's handling of the foot and mouth crisis. The Government has refused all calls for a public inquiry, preferring instead to set up two inquiries into foot and mouth and a policy commission into farming and food - all in private. Devon and Northumberland have held public inquiries but the Government refused to assist them. Having been stymied in its attempts to prevent the European Parliament from setting up a public inquiry, the Government said it would "in principle" assist the committee in its work.
Jan 17

Judged by Europe

Telegraph

ELEVEN months after it started, the worst outbreak of foot and mouth disease that not just Britain, but also the world, has ever known was officially declared over this week. This week, too, the European Parliament is expected to announce an inquiry into the epidemic, and thus open the way for the first full-scale public hearings into the Government's handling of the crisis. Tony Blair, of course, has always been adamant that he wants no such inquiry, and certainly no public hearings. Instead, the Government has established three limited inquiries, each of which will consider a different aspect of the outbreak and deliberate in private. True to its obstructive instincts, Labour has also refused to send ministerial or official witnesses to the hearings into the crisis held by outside bodies, including Devon and Northumberland county councils. Labour's objection to a public inquiry, ostensibly on the grounds of expense and delay, would carry more weight if it had not itself set up the Phillips inquiry (which cost £27 million and took three years) to investigate the Conservatives' handling of BSE.
Nor is it written in stone that the only way to hold an inquiry is to engage a host of expensive lawyers. The report into the last outbreak of foot and mouth was chaired by the Duke of Northumberland in 1968 and produced a well regarded report in reasonable time.
Labour's real problem, of course, is not with the principle of an inquiry, but with the probable result.
Jan 16

Jan 11 ~ "Legal experts are expected to provide evidence supporting a public inquiry on behalf of a number of prominent national newspaper groups.

Farmers Weekly

Nicholas Bowen of legal chambers 29 Bedford Row is acting on behalf of the BBC and the national newspapers. They include the Telegraph Group, which owns The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph; Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail and Evening Standard; and the Mirror Group, which owns the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. After hearing the cases for and against, the judges will decide whether a full public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth should be held."

County call for foot and mouth probe

Luton on Line

Public inquiry needed into devastating outbreak Beds County Council is calling for a full public inquiry into last year s foot-and-mouth crisis. Restrictions were finally lifted across the UK on Tuesday, except in Northumbria. Here the Conservative-led county council is lobbying the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett, to commission an independent inquiry. Executive member, Coun Richard Stay said: "Despite managing to remain disease free in Bedfordshire, the impact of the outbreak on local farmers was immense. "This council has expressed its full and active support for the farming community within the county and will therefore be making representation to Defra to request a full public inquiry to ensure we learn the lessons from this crisis." He reminded a meeting of all county councillors of the then Environment Minister, Michael Meacher s statement in April that a wide-ranging public inquiry would be held to ascertain the cause of the outbreak and establish how to prevent another. Jan 3

The fight for the facts about the foot and mouth disaster

Western Morning News

took a major step forward yesterday when a date was revealed for court action that could lead to the beginning of a full PUBLIC INQUIRY. The hearing, backed by the Western Morning News, the Western Mail in Cardiff and the Farmers Weekly magazine, could mean ministers being compelled to give evidence about their handling of the crisis. It comes as Downing Street dismissed a letter - signed by the editors of all three publications plus The Journal in Newcastle - highlighting a petition calling for a public inquiry which was signed by more than 100,000 people 40,000 of them WMN readers. The two paragraph reply from number 10 Downing street, simply referred the matter to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs. WMN Editor Barrie Williams last night described the response as a 'cynical smack in the teeth for all those people who felt so strongly about foot and mouth that they signed the petition'. He said: "if anything, it's just further proof why there must be a PUBLIC INQUIRY. Number 10 just doesn't want to know about foot and mouth." "This letter is typical. It's the usual Tony Blair evasiveness and dismissiveness of people in the countryside. He doesn't want scrutiny because he knows it could show up his own Government's cruel and chaotic handling of the crisis. But we're not going to let the matter rest, which is why we launched the petition and why we're backing the court action." Jan 3

Farmers split over foot and mouth cash

Telegraph

Bob Parry, president of the Farmers' Union of Wales... "What is the point of an inquiry if it doesn't have the legal powers to force key witnesses to give evidence? I believe that a full public inquiry is the only way of getting at the truth, however difficult or embarrassing for individuals that truth may be."
Dec 27


Foot and mouth: the blunders

Sunday Times

Before the foot and mouth outbreak ravaged British farming, the government received a clear scientific warning of the danger. It failed to act. And after disaster struck, the decisions it made only increased and prolonged the crisis. Jonathan Leake reports Five months before the worst disaster ever to hit British farming struck, John Ryan took the floor at a United Nations agriculture conference and delivered a stark message. Millions of animals were likely to die, the Irish veterinary scientist warned, and livestock farming was threatened with devastation. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) was certain to hit Europe, warned Ryan, and the impact could be worse than ever before. The doomsaying could not have been blunter and yet, as a Sunday Times investigation into the FMD disaster reveals, the British authorities took no heed. And when the epidemic did strike, they were chronically unprepared and fatally disorganised. As the disease finally peters out, the government has refused to hold an inquiry into the epidemic. If it did, it would reveal a catalogue of blunders:
Dec 23


Grounded

Telegraph

Foot and mouth means Father Christmas will be unable to use his reindeer to help with deliveries in England and Wales this year, says Robin Page ..... It is true that reindeer have cloven hooves and so can get foot and mouth, in theory, yet, whenever I have spoken to Defra about the possibility of wild deer spreading foot and mouth during the current epidemic, it has dismissed the idea. So if wild deer in Devon and Cumbria have played no part in spreading foot and mouth, and only a proper public inquiry will tell us otherwise, why does Defra believe that strictly supervised and monitored reindeer will now spread foot and mouth?
Dec 22


Farmers' plea to Rural Rebels

BBC

Scotland's farming leaders have called for talks with the controversial campaign group Rural Rebels amid fears that its tactics could damage countryside causes. The National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) expressed doubts over the group's strategy of causing disruption and said these measures may be too simplistic and counter productive. The union said it was important that the group did not drive a wedge between rural and urban communities and hoped talks would clear up any areas of concern. More than 20 organisations are reported to have joined the broadband Rural Rebels campaign in a bid to secure, what they say, is a better deal for the countryside from politicians. The umbrella group has used a variety of tactics to publicise demands for an independent public inquiry into foot-and-mouth disease, the right to peaceful country pursuits and the right to educate country children in country schools.
Dec 20


Country rebels threaten blockade

The Scotsman

David Scott Scottish Government Editor (dscott@scotsman.com)
COUNTRYSIDE campaigners are planning a mass rally of up to 10,000 people in Edinburgh this weekend as a warning to the executive not to ignore the concerns of Scotland's rural community. Details of the "March on the Mound," to be held on Sunday, were unveiled yesterday by the Scottish Countryside Alliance. Another group, Rural Rebels, said they planned to block roads between Scotland and England at lunchtime on Friday................ Announcing plans for the protest on Sunday, the Scottish Countryside Alliance warned politicians to "heed the rising level of rural protest". Allan Murray, a director of the SCA, said countryside demonstrations were likely to increase over the coming months because those involved in rural issues felt they were being let down by the political process. The alliance aims to highlight a number of issues, including opposition to the proposed ban on hunting with dogs, calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of foot-and-mouth and concerns over new rules on land access rights.
Dec 13


Thousands back call for virus inquiry

Farmers Weekly

By Mike Stones
MORE than 112,000 people have pledged support to our joint campaign for a full public inquiry into the causes and handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis. In response to requests from our readers, FARMERS WEEKLY launched its campaign in mid-July. Later that month, we joined forces with Horse & Hound magazine to lobby our combined readership. In August, both magazines teamed up with leading regional newspapers Western Morning News in Plymouth, The Western Mail in Cardiff and The Journal in Newcastle. Together we attracted massive support for a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth from rural and urban readers alike. FARMERS WEEKLY alone attracted nearly 25,000 signatures. "Never before in our 67-year history has the magazine commanded such keen support from so many readers," said FARMERS WEEKLY editor Stephen Howe. Campaign support grew after the government announced in August its three independent inquiries and a policy commission. The editors of FARMERS WEEKLY, Horse & Hound and the three regional newspapers will deliver your signatures to Downing Street as soon as a date can be agreed with Number Ten. "We are looking forward to letting the Prime Minister know precisely how the country feels about his decision to hold foot-and-mouth inquiries behind closed doors. "Only the international crisis has prevented us from delivering them early this autumn," said Mr Howe. Dec 7

Inquiry - "Chances of winning are high"

Farmers Weekly

CHANCES of winning legal action to force a public inquriy into the foot-and-mouth crisis are more than 60%, says legal expert. "We believe we can show the government was wrong not to respond to requests to hold a public inquiry into its handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis," said Tim Russ, head of the agricultural law team at west-country firm Clarke Willmott Clarke. A chance to persuade a judge to order the government to hold a public inquiry will come next February during a judicial review of the government's decision at London's High Court. Two other legal teams, Gabb and Co of Wales and Bristol-based Burges Salmon, are gathering evidence with Clarke Willmott Clarke on behalf of claimants who suffered hardship due to the crisis. After hearing evidence supporting pleas for a public inquiry and the opposing view from a Defra law team, the judge will decide whether to order ministers to open a public inquiry. A Defra spokeswoman said the department would defend the government's decision to hold two independent inquiries and a policy commission in the aftermath of foot-and-mouth. FARMERS WEEKLY has pledged to support part of the costs of the legal action in association with Western Morning News and The Western Mail. To support the campaign, with pledges of money or evidence, contact Tim Russ at Clarke Willmott Clarke, Blackbrook Gate, Park Avenue, Taunton, TA1 2PG (phone 01823 445218; fax 01823-445816) Dec 7

warmwell.com

Home page

Nov 29 ~ Today's Meeting at the House of Commons was considered a success by its participants. At the end, a resolution proposed and seconded to Committee Room 8, packed with senior vets, lawyers, MPs, peers and supporters, was that "This House opposes the Animal Health amendment bill". It was passed unanimously. There were no abstentions. Calls for a proper public inquiry into the handling of the disease were also made by many, including Peter Ainsworth and Baroness Byford, and were applauded.

Minister rejects epidemic inquiry

This is Lancashire

EAST Lancashire MP Nigel Evans is to keep up the pressure for a full scale public inquiry into the foot and mouth epidemic which has devastated the area. He made the pledge after Farming Minister Alun Michael refused his call for an independent probe in a Commons debate. The Ribble Valley Tory said a public inquiry was the only way to find out what happened, how the epidemic was mishandled by the government and to stop it happening again. He condemned Mr Michael's refusal to hold an open investigation as "irresponsible" during a special 90-minute debate he called at Westminster on the issue. But the Minister said the government was holding three separate investigations into how the outbreak occurred, how it spread and how any repeat could be prevented. Mr Evans' call for a lengthy and expensive public inquiry was "totally irresponsible" he claimed. But the Shadow Welsh Secretary was very disappointed and said: "I am appalled and disheartened by the response from the government to this debate. Alun Michael degraded the whole debate with his inadequate response. "He clearly has no sympathy for the farming industry which is still reeling from the impact of foot and mouth. "We will await any action that now follows this debate. The government is scared of the embarrassing revelations that might come from this inquiry -- but they should be afraid of another outbreak of foot and mouth. (Nov 24)

Nov 18 ~ " The Bill's sweeping new powers can be justified only by the findings of an independent PUBLIC INQUIRY, which the government has refused to hold.

Iain Duncan Smith

The bill implies that farmers were to blame for foot and mouth, when evidence suggests that ministers and officials bungled their handling of the crisis. A lack of effective action at the outset was compounded by poor communications and insensitivity, and the disaster spiralled out of control. This Bill will effectively deny farmers any chance to make the case that ministers and officials are acting unreasonably. Moreover, it fails to tighten up on import conditions, meaning that we could import foot and mouth disease again. This Bill would put more power into the hands of the very people that caused the disaster in the first place. By pre-empting the outcome of the Government's own inquiries into foot and mouth, the Bill is both premature and ill-considered." (Iain Duncan-Smith)

From: Roger Wilson, Park Close, Melbourne, York.

Yorkshire Post

Sir, - So Elliot Morley (Letters, November 8) perceives that the major cause of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease is everybody else's fault except the Government's and MAFF (DEFRA). The huge drain on resources and costs was primarily caused because the powers-that-be did not, and still do not, have a national disaster or contingency plan for virulent diseases such as this. No, Elliot Morley. What the public require is not some obscure independent inquiries. Put your money where your mouth is, stop these accusations, and let's have a full PUBLIC INQUIRY. Perhaps then, and only then, will the full truth be known.
Nov 16


Welsh farmers reject animal health bill

icWales

The Farmers' Union of Wales has rejected the Government's new Animal Health Bill - because the union doesn't believe that DEFRA should be given any more powers at present. The new Animal Health Bill proposes to give the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs powers to force farmers to comply with livestock culls in the event of another disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth. The FUW believes that arbitrary powers coupled to the lack of an appeals procedure could breach EU law and the Human Rights Act. "Giving DEFRA even more powers over the lives of farmers before establishing why the disease spread out of control so quickly is like putting a five year old behind the wheel of a Ferrari," said Alan Gardner, who chaired a joint meeting of the union's livestock and hill farming committees. "The only way to resolve this difficult issue is for the Government to order a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into this year's foot and mouth epidemic so that errors can be pinpointed and lessons learned," he said. "Until such an inquiry is held it would be foolish to grant DEFRA any more powers."

Government 'in denial' of its foot and mouth errors

Western Morning News

.... Tony Banks, the former Sport Minister, underlined backbench unease about the sweeping new powers when he abstained from the vote on the Bill's second reading on Monday. He also added his voice to calls for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth (FMD) crisis. Mr Banks, a well-known animal rights campaigner, said it was not right to give extended culling powers to DEFRA officials and other "so-called experts". He added: "The idea that Ministers can order slaughter whether or not animals have been exposed to foot and mouth disease is one that I find wholly unacceptable." Despite the Bill passing its second reading with a large majority, significant concerns were raised about it on all sides of the House of Commons and it is expected to face a tougher time both in committee and in the House of Lords.
Nov 14


DALE'S BLUE BOX IS LIFTED

Hexham Courant

THE BLUE BOX animal movement restrictions imposed in the Allendale area in August were due to be lifted last night. After nearly seven weeks with no new cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the district, Defra was expected to announced yesterday afternoon the restrictions were being lifted at midnight. This will mean the 31 disinfectant spray stations across the district will be stood down immediately, and will be removed over the next couple of days. The scrapping of the blue box follows the lifting of restrictions on farms in the Allendale, Haydon Bridge and Hunstansworth areas earlier this week. However, a 10km radius D-zone will remain around Whitley Chapel in Hexhamshire, where formal clinical results from blood samples are still awaited. The news will be welcomed across the district, but the clamour for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the epidemic is gaining further impetus.
Nov 13

Hague and Banks savage ministers over foot-and-mouth

Ananova

Sweeping new powers for ministers to combat foot-and-mouth disease were given a mauling on all sides of the Commons. Former sports minister Tony Banks led Labour backbench unrest over the Animal Health Bill, warning he would abstain on its second reading. Calling for an independent INQUIRY into causes of the outbreak, Mr Banks said: "We are being asked to support a Bill that gives far greater powers to ministers before we fully understand the causes of the outbreak itself. "It gives so extensive a range of powers to DEFRA officials that it terrifies me."


Nov 12 ~ As part of the agenda for business in the Commons today we read; ANIMAL HEALTH BILL: Second Reading. [Until 10.00 p.m.]

House of Commons

Mr Elfyn Llwyd, Mr Simon Thomas, Mr Hywel Williams, Adam Price , That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Animal Health Bill because it does not establish an independent PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth disease outbreak this year; does not address properly the failure of both MAFF and DEFRA to deal with the outbreak; has not been prepared with sufficient public consultation, particularly with the National Assembly for Wales; and does not devolve animal health issues to the National Assembly in line with the requirements of good governance and effective disease control.
Mr Iain Duncan Smith, Mr Peter Ainsworth, Mrs Ann Winterton, Mr Jonathan Sayeed, Mr Keith Simpson, David Maclean, That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Animal Health Bill because it is inappropriate to legislate on this matter before an independent inquiry into the causes and handling of the foot and mouth epidemic has been established and before the Government's internal inquiries have reported; because the Bill confers undue powers on officials; and because it makes no provision for controls to prevent the importation of disease.


Nov 12 ~Mrs Beckett challenged in the High Court.

'Grounds of Review following the issue of proceedings yesterday in the action

The Queens (On the application of (1). Peter Alan Jackson and (2). Jeremy James Roe) -and- The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to review the decision of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to hold three private inquiries into the Government's handling of the 2001 FMD outbreak.....can be viewed here. The Claimants challenge: a. The decision of the Secretary of State that the Lessons Learned Inquiry convened by her should be held in private; b. The decision of the Secretary of State not to seek a resolution of both Houses of Parliament to convene the Lessons Learned Inquiry as a PUBLIC INQUIRY to inquire into the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease under the provisions of section 1 of the Tribunals Act 1921; c. The decision of the Secretary of State to appoint Dr Iain Anderson as the Chairman of the Lessons Learned Inquiry; d. The decision of the Secretary of State to appoint as the secretariat to the Lessons Learned Inquiry officials from the Cabinet Office.'
Nov 12


How foot and mouth is fuelled by computers and cluelessness

Telegraph

By Adam Nicolson
......... It turns out that the ministry that deals with farming - ex-Maff, now Defra (but if you ring them up, it's the same people, same telephone numbers, same mindset, even one of the same ministers) - has just about the same grasp of the geography of Great Britain as that poor Dutchman had of the Venezuelan interior. ..... The Government has shamefully refused to set up a proper public inquiry, with real powers to summon evidence and witnesses. Is this dreadful computer failure the secret which that decision is designed to conceal? All this is part of a larger question. The response to the foot and mouth outbreak has been characterised by a pervasive and fatal distance from the detailed realities on the ground. The lessons of the Northumberland report on the 1967 outbreak, which emphasised local, fast action, and burial, not burning, were ignored (or had been forgotten)........... The new Draconian changes to the 1981 Animal Health Act, proposed by Elliot Morley last week, allowing the Government to kill any animal it wants to, whether the farmer wants it killed or not, is yet another symptom of a political and official culture governed by a contempt for any authority but its own. There is talk of making the present licensing scheme a permanent feature of farmers' lives, to be controlled by officials who know as much about the geography of rural Britain, and the lives of those who occupy it, as they do about the Matto Grosso or the hunting habits of the Nambikwara. It is a kind of official imperialism; but any empire governed like this would soon fall apart.
Nov 12


It's true, people are like sheep

Sunday Times

Jonathan Miller
................ Speaking of sheep, Sir Brian Follett, the chairman of the Royal Society's "independent" inquiry into the foot and mouth debacle, appears already to have concluded that vaccination would not have worked to control the world's costliest and most poorly managed foot and mouth epidemic. Some inquiry. Expert and highly qualified witnesses who do not agree have yet to be even asked for their evidence. Rural death supremo Margaret Beckett has been sent a Ladybird book of animals to help her tell a sheep from a goat. Elliot Morley, her junior in charge of the actual butchery, was down in Devon the other day insisting there was no doubt that farmers resisting Defra's legally questionable contiguous cull helped to spread foot and mouth disease. That's not true, is it, Elliot. There's plenty of doubt. Why can't the Tories do more about these constant lies from Defra? If Morley can identify a single case in which contiguous cull resistance can be shown unequivocally to have been responsible for the spread of the disease, he should name it. But he can't, because the reason why the disease spread was government incompetence. .....
Nov 11


Last chance for our villages

Western Daily Press

AN urgent last effort must be made to save Britain's rural way of life, it was claimed last night. ........ The Countryside Agency .... .. will today publish its most detailed report ever on the quality of such essential services in the countryside, comparing the position in 1997 with last year. ....The report is published at a time when confidence in the Government's commitment to the countryside has come into question following the foot-and-mouth crisis....... Tony Blair's refusal to allow a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the way the epidemic was handled has angered many rural people. And the axing of the discredited Ministry of Agriculture after the General Election in June appears to have made little difference, with its replacement, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, making a series of blunders. Labour claimed when it first won power to have more rural MPs than the other parties put together and it retained almost all of the seats in June, some in places where it had not been in force for generations. But the Prime Minister knows he cannot hope to win a third term unless he can deliver his promised improvements in public services across the whole of the UK.
Nov 7


Probe shows need for full inquiry Nov 6 2001

By The Journal

Devon County Council's foot-and-mouth PUBLIC INQUIRY has shown the need for such an investigation at national level the Country Land and Business Association said yesterday. According to the organisation the speed and the effectiveness with which Devon County Council was able to gather evidence and publish an interim report demonstrated the process need not be so painful as the Government seemed to assume. The CLA provided one of 360 written submissions as well as joining 50 other organisations and individuals who gave evidence to the inquiry. CLA regional director Antony Haslam said: "We wholeheartedly endorse the findings of this inquiry, which actually vindicate much of what we said in the North-East during the course of the crisis. ...... Mr Haslam said: "I think we were deeply disappointed Defra chose not to be represented at this inquiry a...... "To have read the submissions, listened to the witnesses and produced this report within the space of a couple of months shows that it can be done. We hope it will be given serious attention by every aspect of the Government's own three-pronged inquiry and that the Government will learn from it and from the fact that it has been held in public."
Nov 6

Rural Fears

Letter to the Telegraph

Re: Rural fears Date: 2 November 2001 SIR - The Government's plans to slaughter animals against the wishes of their owners (report, Nov. 1) are yet another attempt to fend off growing calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth epidemic. Elliot Morley, the animal health minister, once more seeks to blame farmers, who now have more cause than ever to doubt scientific tests that could result in slaughter of flocks and herds built up over a lifetime, with no appeal. The minister might look at governmental concern about the election and lack of concern about foot and mouth in the early weeks of the outbreak, and at the Prime Minister's early abandonment of personal control when losing the battle. Mr Morley should also consider his own position regarding attempts to stifle assistance from qualified hunt staff early in the slaughter. Country people to whom I talk fear a government-inspired ploy to finish the entire livestock industry. Edward Hart, Ludlow, Shrops
Nov 2


North of England to get its own Public Inquiry

From the Newcastle Journal Nov 2

~ The North is set to get its own PUBLIC INQUIRY into the cause and handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis, it emerged last night. Northumberland County Council says it is "very likely" to stage its own hearing - putting even more pressure on the Government to hold a public hearing into the chaotic handling of a crisis which has cost the North £1bn and devastated the rural economy. Last night council leader Coun Mike Davey said: "We are seriously considering holding an inquiry into foot-and-mouth. It looks very, very likely it will go ahead and sooner rather than later." He added that he still backed The Journal's call for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY by the Government.


New animal health bill is premature, says farm union

News Wales

New government measures to speed up the culling of livestock in any future foot and mouth outbreak are far too premature, the Farmers' Union of Wales stressed today. They are a knee-jerk reaction to the implications of the current foot and mouth crisis and will do nothing to assist farmers, said FUW President Bob Parry. The Animal Health Bill, published today, proposes giving Government vets and officials stronger powers to enforce the rapid culling of livestock in any future outbreak. "It appears the Government is trying to shift blame for the current outbreak on to the farmers instead of looking at the facts. We believe the only proper way of identifying all the weaknesses in the handling of the present crisis is by way of a public inquiry," said Mr Parry
Nov 1


An epidemic of evasion

Telegraph Leader

GOVERNMENTS generally hold inquiries for three reasons: to assuage public concerns; to learn lessons from past failure; and to prevent the repetition of mistakes. By all three criteria, the case for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of the foot and mouth epidemic is overwhelming. It is difficult, even now, to describe the full scale of the calamity. The first outbreak of foot and mouth in Britain since 1967 was allowed to escalate into the worst outbreak of the disease the world has known. One in eight of our farm animals was slaughtered. The cost to the taxpayer, the rural economy and the environment is still being counted. The merest suspicion that all this could have been prevented is enough to merit a proper investigation.
Oct 30


MPs renew calls for virus inquiry

Farmers Weekly

OPPOSITION MPs have renewed calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot-and-mouth following the publication of the Devon report into the crisis The preliminary report from the Devon foot-and-mouth inquiry proves the need for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the epidemic, they said. The report, published on Monday (29 October) brands the government's handling of the crisis as lamentable. Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Peter Ainsworth said it was probable that shortcomings identified in Devon had been repeated elsewhere. "It is disgraceful that the Government seems more set on running away from its own responsibilities than on establishing what went wrong and why." The government's half-hearted participation in the Devon inquiry was an insult to thousands of people who had suffered, said Mr Ainsworth. Refusing to hold a full inquiry would only deepen the sense of anger felt by millions across the whole of the country, he said. Oct 29


Wide-ranging support for PUBLIC INQUIRY into FMD crisis Oct 26 2001

The Journal

The Journal's call for an independent PUBLIC INQUIRY into the cause and handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis has wide-ranging support. Conservative Penrith and the Border MP David Maclean is among politicians from all parties who wants to see a PUBLIC INQUIRY He said: "I have called for a full, free and independent inquiry into all aspects of foot- and-mouth. We cannot have a whitewash job that pins the blame on an individual and takes the focus away from Maff. Robert Foster, chairman of the National Beef Association and based in Northumberland, said: "......... A PUBLIC Inquiry's vital to make sure we learn from our mistakes and ensure they don't happen again. Newcastle North Labour MP Doug Henderson said: " ... I don't think the public will be satisfied with an internal inquiry and I wouldn't be either. Peter Atkinson, Conservative MP for Hexham, said: "Are they afraid there will be serious criticism of the Government for moving too slowly at the start of the epidemic? Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, said: "I think a fully independent PUBLIC Inquiry's essential to establish what happened and learn some lessons, particularly in terms of the mistakes that were made.. .......... Ponteland farmer Ian Williamson wants to know how foot-and-mouth got on to his farm when there have been no animal movements on to his land for more than a year "There are just so many questions that still need to be answered," he said Oct 26


Don't destroy farming, urges Evans

Lancashire Evening Telegraph

RIBBLE Valley MP Nigel Evans has warned the government not to destroy the farming industry and demanded a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth epidemic. Responding to Lord Haskins report on rural recovery following the virus outbreak, Mr Evans welcomed the calls for more short term help for farming and tourism recommended in the document. But Mr Evans, a member of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet, told Goosnargh Farmers' Club in Chipping he wanted action not words. Mr Evans said: "Many farmers throughout my constituency have been badly affected by foot and mouth. The last confirmed case in the country was September 30 and although I have concerns over a possible outbreak, further assistance is needed for our farming communities urgently." He added: "Environment farming and rural affairs secretary Margaret Beckett must not let this industry be destroyed by stealth." "We need a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the outbreak and we are desperate there should be a future for farming otherwise the devastating effect will see the disappearance of our farmlands which will be felt for generations and throughout many industries."


Rural groups 'want a full public inquiry'

Telegraph

THE Tories called on the Government yesterday to hold a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot and mouth because every rural body wanted one. Ann Winterton, from the shadow agriculture team, said: "The outbreak has cost taxpayers almost £2 billion and surely they have a right to learn the truth and how the Government proposes to prevent infections from being re-imported into the United Kingdom in the near future? "Bearing in mind the millions of animals slaughtered as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak, why has the Government set its face against holding a full, independent PUBLIC INQUIRY into the cause and handling of the outbreak?" ....The call in the Commons yesterday during Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs questions followed a similar plea in the Lords on Wednesday. Oct 19


Foot-and-mouth peril 'not over yet'

Yorkshire Post

Fears of a foot-and-mouth resurgence were raised yesterday by Government farms supremo Margaret Beckett, amid reports of a new outbreak of the disease. ........ ..her department said there was "verbal confirmation" of a new case near Carlisle, in Cumbria, and said epidemiologists would issue a full report today. But Mrs Beckett swept aside disquiet even from Labour MPs over Prime Minister Tony Blair's refusal to call a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth epidemic. And she came close to excusing officials from blame during the nine-month crisis, hitting out at the "growing modern culture that if anything goes wrong, someone must be to blame and we have to find that person to blame and pillory. ...... She told the Commons' environment, food and rural affairs committee that Mr Blair's decision to set up three separate behind-closed-doors inquiries was "actually a better and more effective way" to approach the problem. But East Yorkshire Tory MP Greg Knight later told the Yorkshire Post of mounting demands from local farmers for a public inquiry, and declared that "justice has to be seen to be done".
Oct 18


Paper goes to court over F&M

icWales

THE Western Mail is taking legal action against the Government over its refusal to hold a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth crisis. The legal challenge will be headed by a leading barrister and farmer, Richard Lissack QC, who has played a part in several high-profile inquiries, including those into the Bristol Royal Infirmary baby-parts scandal and the Ladbroke Grove train crash. Backing up the legal move is a 100,000-signature petition calling for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY spearheaded by The Western Mail along with the Western Morning News in Plymouth and Farmers' Weekly, which have agreed to underwrite the costs should the legal action fail. A legal letter written on behalf of farmers and businesses who have suffered because of the disease and expressing the need for a PUBLIC INQUIRY has been sent to Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It states that if the Government refuses to grant a full public inquiry, Mr Lissack and his legal team will start proceedings for a judicial review.
Oct 18


Pyre spread foot-and-mouth: Vet

Western Daily Press

FOOT-and-mouth was spread by a carcass pyre lit on an infected farm, a vet told a PUBLIC INQUIRY yesterday...........She said she was "horrified" that the Government was not holding a public inquiry. "As taxpayers we are paying for all this blundering. We deserve to know why we are paying so much for it," she said. ......... Oct 14


Euro MP in bid for foot-mouth inquiry

Western Daily Press

A FULL-scale EU-based inquiry into Britain's foot-and-mouth outbreak is a step nearer becoming reality after an intervention by West MEP Neil Parish. He has invoked a little-used procedure to table a petition signed by 200 cross-party Euro-MPs from across the Community calling for a committee to be set up to investigate the epidemic. This will then be a trigger for the Commission and the Council of Ministers to take the proposal for a full investigation seriously. And a defiant Mr Parish, a Conservative MEP and a Somerset farmer, says his action was fully justified, given the intransigence of the UK government. "Labour has ignored the pleas of everyone who is calling for a full independent public inquiry. Therefore, we had no alternative but to force the EU to investigate the matter," he said. "We have to learn everything we possibly can to ensure that something like this never happens again, and sweeping the issue under the carpet is not acceptable."
Oct 8


MAN OF THE PEOPLE: JUST WOOLLY ANSWERS ON SHEEP

Sunday People Oct 6

A TOP scientist says a million sheep and cattle could have been saved if the Government had acted more promptly to cull animals in foot- and-mouth infected areas. Maybe it wasn't that simple. There was undoubtedly plenty of opposition to the sacrificing of healthy animals even on the more relaxed time-table the ministry employed. But there's still cause for concern, and before we have to endure another epidemic, as we surely will, shouldn't we learn the lessons of this last one? And the best way to do that is a full-scale public enquiry with all interested parties having a say. But the same Government that's happy to waste millions on an IRA propaganda exercise investigating the 1972 Londonderry shootings says No. But then, I suppose neither the animals nor their unfortunate owners have threatened to blow people up the way the IRA do.


PROTEST OVER DISINFECTING CAUSES CHAOS AT LOWGATE

Hexham Courant

A PROTEST staged by two Tynedale women to demand a return to "both ways" disinfectant spraying caused traffic chaos at Lowgate on Tuesday afternoon. Queues of vehicles formed when nurses Beverley Kenworthy and Angela Chomse blocked the B6305 between Hexham and Allendale at the Lowgate disinfectant point, to protest at Defra's "ridiculous" roadside disinfecting policy. .....The disinfectant crew watched as both nurses stood in the road and raised placards which demanded: "We want the truth", and "We want a public inquiry", and "Disinfect don't re-infect". .....Oct 6


Liberal Democrats back Journal petition

 

Journal

...The petition has now received 20,571 signatures calling on the Government to ditch plans for three secret internal inquiries in favour of an open, independent investigation......At the party conference in Bournemouth, Mr Bruce said, "Everyone wants a PUBLIC INQUIRY except the Government. There are so many dimensions and questions that people want to ask and have answered. It is essential that this is done in public...." Sept 28


Anger flares as more pyre ash found

icnewcastle Journal

Hundreds of tonnes of ash have been found buried at a North-East foot-and-mouth disposal site which was supposed to have been cleared a month ago. The discovery, at the Widdrington site in Northumberland, has sparked fury in nearby communities. Local people watched in disbelief yesterday as contractors used a mechanical digger to scoop soil and ash on to lorries at Hemscott Hill, where a vast pyre was used to incinerate thousands of dead sheep and cattle. Widdrington councillor James Grant, who campaigned for better consultation between the authorities and residents, described the latest situation as "absolute mis-management." ....... "It goes against everything we have been promised and makes the case for a full independent PUBLIC INQUIRY even more justified," he said......Sept 22

Heat is on for foot and mouth PUBLIC INQUIRY

Yorkshire Post

THE Government will tomorrow (i.e. Wednesday 5th Sept) face fresh condemnation over its handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis as Euro MPs threaten their own PUBLIC INQUIRY into the disaster. sept 5


We're winning the fight for an inquiry

Western Daily Press

...Lady Apsley has also slammed Margaret Beckett for failing to give the answers to the questions the whole of the rural community have been asking. .... Influential organisations, including the National Farmers Union, the Countryside Alliance and the Country Land and Business Association, have also agreed to back the petition. The groups have promised to circulate hundreds of thousands of copies. Margaret Beckett triggered fury when she refused to call a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the devastating epidemic. The Government has been accused of a massive cover-up since announcing there will be three separate investigations, all held in secret...... Sept 4


F&M campaigns stepped up

Holdthefrontpage.co.uk

The Citizen is adding its weight to the calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot and mouth disease. The county itself is now officially clear of the disease for the first time in six months. But the effects on local business and farming have been devastating. Gloucestershire was the sixth most badly affected county and The Citizen is urging readers to add their names to a petition printed in the paper and send it in to the Campaign for the Truth, spearheaded by Lady Apsley . The paper said in a front page editorial: "Farming and tourism industries alike have been devastated by the consequences of the worst outbreak of the disease in living memory. "And one question remains to be answered. How on earth did it all happen the way it did? "It is a question this newspaper has been asking for months. And yet there is a growing fear that the process set up by the Government to investigate the outbreak will not provide the complete answer. "That is why The Citizen is joining forces with other leading regional newspapers and countryside magazines to demand nothing less than a full public inquiry." Sept 1


the Yorkshire Post on August 29th

"....Launching the Campaign for the Truth at Westminster, Tory MP Bill Cash raised fears of a Government "cover-up and a whitewash" if Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the mass petition for a full and transparent public inquiry. ...... But Farms Minister Lord Whitty later signalled that the Government would not be moved by the petition campaign. He said the inquiries announced by his boss, Margaret Beckett, would be "full and thorough" with the results made public.
Mr Cash was joined at the launch of the campaign by representatives of the NFU, the Countryside Alliance, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation and the Country Land and Business Association."

The petition


AFTER the Government's announcement of three inquiries into the foot and mouth disease - none of which were public - a leading countryside association has called for a full public inquiry.

Country Land and Business Association regional director for Yorkshire, Dorothy Fairburn said

: "Any inquiry into this appalling disease must be open, transparent and credible. To appear to sweep matters under the carpet would be a serious misjudgement on the part of the Government.

"We welcome the three inquiries announced by Margaret Beckett but they should be completely in the public domain. "Mrs Beckett has ruled out a full PUBLIC INQUIRY on the grounds that it would take a long time and cost a large amount of public money. This is not a time for cutting costs on such an important issue.

"The outbreak is expected to cost the economy £3 billion and new cases continue to be reported with all the misery that entails.

"We hope the inquiries announced by the Government will give close scrutiny to stronger controls on imported meats at point of entry. Vaccination is a prospect that needs to be investigated but any debate has to be seen to be fair and open. It must, therefore, be held in public. Aug 27 (from Ilkley Gazette)


Devon launches farm disease inquiry

BBC

A PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth outbreak has been launched in Devon, following the government's refusal to hold one. Brian Greenslade, joint leader of Devon County Council, said it would complement the government's three independent inquiries. He said: "We can't force officials from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to take part. "But if they don't, that would cause frustration." Aug 22


Warning over foot-and-mouth inquest

icWales

Ministers will be accused of trying to "sweep the issue under the carpet" if they hold the inquest on the foot-and-mouth crisis behind closed doors, landowners have warned. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has called for the Government's proposed three-pronged inquiry into the cause and handling of the out-break to be held in public. Wales director Julian Salmon said, "We need a proper and informed debate about the foot-and-mouth crisis so that we can determine policy for the future. "Any attempt, perceived or real, to avoid the issues, or to appear to sweep matters under the carpet, would be a serious political misjudgment by the Government. Holding the three inquiries in public would greatly strengthen the authority of their conclusions." Meanwhile, members of the three main action groups in Powys, representing businesses affected by the disease, have joined forces to form the Brecon Beacons Crisis Alliance. Aug 22


We fight on, farmers vow after demo

Yorkshire Post

ANGRY farmers shouting for the resignation of Prime Minister Tony Blair over his handling of the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic marched on Downing Street yesterday. The vast majority of the protesters, numbering about 1,000 and including a contingent from North Yorkshire, said they wanted to see a public inquiry. Aug 21


The CLA (Country Landowners Association)

is sending Lord Haskins, the head of the Government's Better Regulation Taskforce, the findings of its new Rural Regeneration report. Damian Green, the shadow agriculture spokesman, said: "The Government's task now should be to take practical measures to eliminate the disease instead of concentrating on finding scapegoats." He said anything less than a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot and mouth was "little more than a whitewash". Aug 21


Editors unite in fight for foot and mouth PUBLIC INQUIRY

Holdthe frontpage.com

Regional papers from across the country are linking up to fight for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot and mouth disease. The Western Morning news is working with The Journal, Newcastle, the Western Mail and trade magazine Farmers Weekly to make its plea to the Government. And in a scathing attack the Western Morning News this week branded the Prime Minister a coward for shying away from the challenge. Its editor Barrie Williams went on television the next day to defend his stance. He told viewers: "Unlike London politicians I have lived among farmers and seen at first hand the horrors and traumas caused by the Government's foot and mouth policies."


How the foot and mouth disaster of 2001 began

By Christopher Booker and Richard North Sunday Telegraph GIVEN that the Great Foot and Mouth Disaster of 2001 is one of the worst social and financial catastrophes to befall peacetime Britain, it is hardly surprising that, for months, there has been rising clamour for a full independent inquiry into every aspect of how the Government has handled it. Perhaps equally unsurprisingly, the methods now chosen by Tony Blair to allay that clamour have aroused as much suspicion as his earlier refusal to promise one. Ultimately, the only question that mattered was whether such an inquiry would be genuinely free to investigate the bewildering array of political, scientific and legal questions thrown up by the Government's response to this crisis since it began last February. On the basis of what Mr Blair has now come up with, it seems the answer to that is likely to be "No". For a start, he has cleverly chosen to split the main government inquiry into three quite separate parts, the remit for which seems carefully designed to allow many of the most fundamental questions to slip unanswered down the cracks between them. Furthermore none of these is to be an open, public inquiry. The hearings will be in secret, carried out behind closed doors. Aug 12


F&M: Leaders unite to call for inquiry

icWales

Pressure continues unabated on the Government to launch a full-scale PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth epidemic which, in Wales alone, has seen the slaughter of 35,000 cattle, 300,000 sheep and 6,000 pigs. The human cost of foot-and-mouth has been equally painful with the lives of thousands of people ruined and our rural economy brought to its knees. The cost to the public purse has run into many billions of pounds and there are serious questions the authorities still need to answer about their decision-making over the past six months. Yet despite a promise made in April by a minister that there would be a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the worst foot-and-mouth disaster to hit British shores, the Government now appears intent on avoiding one at any cost....


Farmers' Union of Wales president Bob Parry

said he was disappointed the Government had not heeded demands for a public inquiry.


Edwin Roderick, chairman of the Epynt Action Group,

insisted a PUBLIC INQUIRY was required across England and Wales.


The Federation of Small Businesses is also backing a public inquiry.

'There are an awful lot of people who want answers to questions: how this could happen and how their trade has been decimated so quickly,' said a spokesman.


Glyn Davies, chairman of the Assembly's agriculture and rural development committee,

said Mr Blair was using the three small-scale inquiries to diffuse calls for a public inquiry.


Leader: Independent on Sunday

August 12

What we need is unsparing scrutiny of farming and food production in Britain. This is impossible without complete freedom of information where our food is concerned. Compare this with what we are being offered evidence to the foot and mouth inquiry will be given largely behind closed doors with too many cronies as conduits. If there's truth in the adage that we are what we eat, then this Government is 100 per cent pure fudge. Aug 12


Jonathan Miller's Mean fields - Sunday Times Aug 12

. He is diverting attention from the destruction of the flocks on the Brecon Beacons, leading a credulous retinue of television reporters around the bio-cordon protecting NFU president Ben Gill's farm and the Humberside pig units. What is to be made of the new role for Lord Haskins of Northern Foods, a Friend of Tony, appointed to make explicit the case against farmers?....Scope for manipulation and secrecy to protect ministers and officials is unlimited. Beckett boasted on television that there will be no "all-singing, all-dancing public inquiry". Gill is pleased the inquiries will entirely exclude what he terms "irrelevant" questions.....


Whitehall disease Beckett opts for secret government

Guardian

Remember the prime minister's first speech to his MPs after winning the 1997 election. Government in the UK was going to change. It would be open, transparent and accountable. Ministers and MPs would be "the people's servants", not their masters. "The people are the masters." Compare that to the obfuscation and confusion sown by Margaret Beckett in her announcement this week of three separate inquiries into lessons to be learned from the foot and mouth epidemic. The government rejected the idea of a single PUBLIC INQUIRY on the grounds that it would take a long time and cost a large amount of money. Instead it is setting up separate inquiries into the government's handling of the crisis; a scientific review of the epidemic; and a forward look at the future of farming and food. Each inquiry would work to its own timetable, and whether reports are to be made public is apparently being left up to each chairman. Asked whether evidence into the government's handling of the crisis would be made public, Mrs Beckett said this too would be a matter for the chair of each committee, adding: "I would be slightly surprised if he did because if you look back at previous examples that has not been the case. If I can be perfectly blunt, I would be very surprised." In fact if you look back at the last disaster to hit farming - the BSE epidemic - an open and transparent inquiry into the government's handling of the disease is precisely what did happen. Set up by Labour at the end of 1997 - after the Tories had refused repeated requests for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the causes and human implications of mad cow disease - every aspect of the BSE inquiry was held in public. Open hearings, open access to every transcript, every bit of evidence including all the embarrassing interdepartmental memos in the infighting that went on in Whitehall were exposed in a much-needed cleansing process. This is what Labour ministers expected to happen with foot and mouth. Indeed, Michael Meacher, the previous environment secretary, promised there would be a PUBLIC INQUIRY only to be smacked down by Downing Street. Since then, the government has wriggled and writhed and finally come up with its extremely suspicious three-pronged approach. .... MPs must seize their chance and use the select committee mechanism to call witnesses, openly and honestly .. August 11


Scientist criticises closed inquiries on foot and mouth

Telegraph August 11

THE decision to hold the inquiries into the foot and mouth outbreak in private was criticised yesterday by one of Britain's leading food safety experts. Prof Hugh Pennington, who led the PUBLIC INQUIRY into Scotland's E.coli outbreak, called for greater "openness" and questioned the appointment of Dr Iain Anderson, a Government adviser, to head the investigation. He was backed by Iain Duncan Smith, one of the contenders for the Tory leadership, who described the inquiry proposals as "a mess" that would leave "gaps". It was not conducive to finding the truth, he said. ....... Prof Pennington called for the investigation to be held in public using a format similar to that used by Parliamentary Select Committees. He said: "There is so much concern about foot and mouth and what's happened that, unless things are held in public as much as possible, this is not going to satisfy all the people injured by it. I think openness is the key."


FOE Welcomes Farming Commission, slams inquiry into foot and mouth.

Friends of the Earth press release We welcome the announcement of the new Commission on Farming and Food but we are deeply concerned that the Government still insists the Commission has to present policies that fit with increased trade liberalisation. Mr Blair has to recognise that sustainable farming and trade liberalisation are not compatible. ......... This limited inquiry announced today by the Government already smacks of a cover-up and risks doing further damage to the public's trust in government" Aug 11


Door shut on foot-and-mouth inquiry

Financial Times

The government on Thursday rejected calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into its handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis by announcing a "closed-door" investigation - due to report early next year. Downing Street announced two inquiries - the main one to investigate government response to the epidemic and another to examine scientific understanding of the disease. The main inquiry will hear evidence from key witnesses in private..Organisations such as the Country Land and Business Association and Friends of the Earth attacked excluding the public from hearings. .... .Aug 11


Too many inquiries

The Times Leader

August 11
....And too few guarantees of answers The cure for foot-and-mouth is beginning to look as bemusing as the disease itself. Parliament is in recess, the Environment Secretary is travelling in a caravan somewhere in France and from the Prime Minister's holiday home in Mexico comes the announcement that there will be not one, not three, but ten separate inquiries into the foot-and-mouth disaster. The details emerged later, at a press conference which Margaret Beckett interrupted her holiday to attend. The small print turned out to be as unsatisfactory as the manner and timing of the announcement. .....The biggest weakness with Mr Blair's Mexican misjudgment does not, however, concern either the doubts about the independence of his inquiries or the decision that they will not be held in public. It is that they may not uncover the truth. The Government says that the fact that there are so many inquiries shows that there is no attempt to cover anything up. This "never mind the quality, feel the width"approach is unconvincing. The findings of ten overlapping inquiries might easily be less useful even than the Scott report. A single report, which avoided Scott's excesses but answered the central questions, would have been much better. .....He (Dr Anderson) should announce, too, that he will publish evidence and use public regional meetings to air as many issues as possible. He should show that, despite the doubts, he is truly independent. The terms of reference for Dr Andersons inquiry are too vague. Aug 11


Disease inquiry format is 'a mess' - Duncan Smith

Ananova

The Tory leadership contender said there should be no limit to their remit and is also worried about the gaps between the separate inquiries. ..... "And some of those gaps are going to be the area that we want to know about. Information is going to fall between the gaps. "We really need to have all this brought together, and the idea of separating them out smacks to me a little bit of evasion and not about finding the truth. A lot of this seems targeted at the rural community rather than about the rural community. He said he was always suspicious when a Government decided to divide up responsibility, and said there should be a single "umbrella" inquiry into the foot-and-mouth outbreak....Aug 10


August 9 Liberal Democrat shadow leader of the Commons Paul Tyler said: ``It is outrageous that the Government intends to investigate itself in secret.

"This is all too reminiscent of the Tory government's refusal to set up a PUBLIC INQUIRY into BSE. "An incestuous investigation will satisfy nobody and merely make farmers and taxpayers more suspicious that ministers have something to hide. "It is all too typical of the control freaks in this Government that they have made this announcement when Parliament is not sitting. MPs of all parties will rightly conclude that ministers are afraid of the truth." The decision not to hold a PUBLIC INQUIRY was strongly condemned by the Conservative agriculture spokesman Malcolm Moss.

"It is an attempt to deflect attention from the Government's mishandling of the crisis from day one," he told BBC Radio 4's the World at One. "We believe the only way to get to the truth of this problem is to have a full PUBLIC INQUIRY where witnesses have to turn up and give evidence on oath."


Aug 8 ~ Anthony Gibson, National Farmers' Union regional director for south-west England, called for a "full public and independent inquiry" into the crisis.

at a government-arranged conference in Gloucestershire. "You all have been living a nightmare over the past months. "The farming world has changed forever. This is an opportunity to think about what you could be doing." David King, a 64-year-old livestock farmer said agriculture had changed forever. "It will never be the same. it will be like the mines and steel works."


From the Shropshire Star - 7th Aug.

North Shropshire MP, Owen Paterson today launched an astonishing attach on the Government's handling of the foot and mouth crisis, slamming agriculture ministers as " Bungling, incompetent deceitful Mr Paterson accused the Government of leaking details of foot and mouth compensation payments which have made 37 farmers millionaires. The Government was playing "dirty games in an attempt to discredit the agriculture industry," he said Now he is calling for an independent public enquiry to look at how the devastating foot and mouth virus entered the country in the first place. His comments come as the foot and mouth crisis took another twist with a report that the EU is launching a fraud enquiry into excessive compensation payments to farmers................... But Mr. Paterson stormed " The Government let this disease into the country in the first place, so it absolutely outrageous that it should be shifting the blame onto farmers.


We were told that the Prime Minister was acting in the "national interest". He took personal control, telling us that we were on the home straight.

part of a letter to the Times Aug 1 It was a glaring example of mis-information. The only home straight we were on was the one that led to the June 7 election. If political self-interest did predominate - and I stress if - then it was indefensible. This is a further reason for a full and comprehensive inquiry, to determine what solid fact and expectation underpinned those public assurances that have proved to be so worthless.

We need to learn fresh lessons from this outbreak. How did it occur? Why did it spread so widely? Why is it lingering so long? Why were troops used so late and the carcass disposal instructions so confused? Why was vaccination rejected? Why is it now being considered again? There are so many more questions to be answered. I am content for the Prime Minister to take advice on the precise nature of the inquiry, but he should commit himself to it without delay and ensure that it will be held fully in public. Our rural communities - both present and future - deserve no less.


Telegraph Leader July 29..

when asked yesterday whether there would be an investigation into the worst agricultural crisis of modern times, Mr Morley ruled out holding a "public tribunal type enquiry". That, of course, is precisely what is needed.


From Prof Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS
in the Veterinary Record SIR, -

As the Council members who proposed the motion for an independent inquiry into the FMD outbreak, which was unanimously accepted at the June meeting of RCVS Council (see VR, June 16, pp 733-735), we are concerned at the repeated misrepresentation, in Parliament, of what it said.

It unambiguously called for an independent inquiry, once the outbreak is over, modelled on the Northumberland report into the 1967/68 outbreak.


Farmers' Guardian July 27 - Pressure maintained for PUBLIC INQUIRY

The Government must hold a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot-and-mouth

25 July 2001 Independent

From the chaos that has emerged out of the foot-and-mouth crisis in the past year, we can say only one thing with confidence: that the average person in Britain has little idea what is going on. .....The Prince of Wales was right yesterday to suggest not only that the problems of the foot-and-mouth epidemic are not solved, but also that the future of the countryside is "one of the most crucial issues of our time''.


24th July Daily Mail The farce just goes on and on

As the foot-and-mouth clean-up is halted, another epidemic could be around the corner. So will there be a public inquiry? Not likely.

By Richard North


From today's Farmers Weekly interactive

FWi users suspect virus cover-up

By Donald MacPhail - WHAT have you got to hide, Mr Blair? That's the question FWi users calling for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth crisis want answered. More than 99% of site users who have so far responded to a FWi poll believe there should be a full-blown public investigation


Ananova July 20

Animal Health Minister Elliot Morley says a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth crisis would attract "every crackpot in the country". Mr Morley made his comments during a visit to Worcester after a local Tory MP claimed the Government was "running scared".


Westmorland Gazette July 20

Because of the Government's refusal to shift from its scorched earth policy, thousands of healthy animals have been needlessly slaughtered. "Recent reports in the national press suggest that this is only the tip of the iceberg and absolutely reinforce the need for the Government to lay its cards on the table and call a FULL AND INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of the whole foot-and-mouth crisis."


MPs set to launch farm virus inquiry
Yorkshire Post

Tony Blair's bid to avoid a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth crisis is set to fail as MPs prepare to order their own full-scale investigation. The Prime Minister this week re-affirmed his opposition to a public examination of the crisis by telling MPs a "different type of inquiry" would produce quicker results. But the comment has fuelled fears that the Government wants to avoid full scrutiny of its handling of the affair which has crippled many parts of rural Britain, including North Yorkshire.
"Throughout the foot-and-mouth crisis, the Government simply has simply not understood the anger and depth of the crisis in North Yorkshire." ...However, MPs on the new Commons' environment, food and rural affairs committee yesterday signalled that they would call Margaret Beckett .. to give evidence in the autumn.
Yorkshire Post July 20 - although this is not a demand for a PUBLIC INQUIRY it is a step forward.


"Alan Beat, who runs a 16 acre organic smallholding at Bridgerule, near Holsworthy, said he believed there was a "groundswell of support" for a public inquiry.

"I am no legal expert but my understanding is that a PUBLIC INQUIRY can call any witnesses, including MPs and even the Prime Minister, and ask questions of them, whereas any other form of inquiry has more restricted powers and people have the chance of not giving evidence" he said. "I have felt from the beginning that the Prime Minister would refuse a PUBLIC INQUIRY because he has the most to lose of anybody. He did stand up and say I am in charge, and from that point on he took responsibility. I have felt for some time he would not open himself to public scrutiny. A restricted inquiry might be headed by a scientific team who were on the fringes, if not directly involved, in the crisis" he added. "I do feel we'll get a cover-up and a whitewash. Virtually everybody I have spoken to thinks a PUBLIC Inquiry's essential." Western Daily Press July 19


Ian Johnson, of the South West NFU, said: "We would have liked to have seen evidence presented by all those concerned in a proper inquiry, and we hope that still will happen. "If the inquiry is to have any weight, it should be done in public. We don't want a witch hunt - we just want answers.

Express and Echo July 19)

------------------------------------------

Support floods in for foot-and-mouth inquiry call July 19

Support for The Journal's campaign for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of
the foot-and-mouth outbreak is coming in from far and wide.

Sixty six signatures for our petition have come from the remote and
beautiful Isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides - and their support was
the result of a French based Internet website. (i.e. warmwell.com)

The petition came from customers at one general store on the isle, which has
a population of 1,8000, after they saw our petition form on the Internet.

Yesterday, we traced the website to a French village just outside Bordeaux,
and found it has pledged its support to our campaign by providing petition
forms which online visitors can download, sign and send off.

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

David Handley, of Farmers for Action, said the move was "total arrogance" from Mr Blair. He said: "He has no right whatsoever to say there will not be a public inquiry. We will take this to Europe if that's what's necessary. "We need to know exactly what caused this disease, how it was brought here and how it was run and the inadequacies involved.
"We are not having some back-room inquiry where people who have made mistakes can be hidden away or side-shifted. This needs to be an open and public debate." July 19

----------------------------------------

Yesterday in Parliament
Telegraph

Blair rules out PUBLIC INQUIRY into 'disaster' THE Prime Minister firmly brushed aside any suggestions that there should be a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the causes of the foot and mouth disease, which is still affecting large parts of the country. Tony Blair, speaking at the last Prime Minister's Questions before the summer recess, which begins tomorrow, was asked about the issue by William Hague, the outgoing Tory leader. The Tories and Liberal Democrats have for months urged the Government to set up a full-scale PUBLIC INQUIRY once the disease had been eradicated. The Government has already said that it would hold an inquiry once the disease was eliminated but has come under heavy pressure to hold public hearings. Mr Blair said he did not accept that it had to be a "public tribunal inquiry" and insisted that the eradication of the disease remained the "number one priority". July 19

----------------------------------------

Professor Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS Former President of the RCVS, Professor of Comparative Medicine at the University of London and member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Council
"There has to be a powerful independent INQUIRY into all aspects of FMD 2001; there is no reasonable alternative. Too many people, too many animals, have suffered both directly and indirectly; and the lessons have to be drawn with total objectivity:" July 9th

There are already indications in the media that the Government, including the Prime Minister, are not enamoured of the prospect. This should arouse deep misgivings if it is true. Any attempt to evade such an INQUIRY - or to attenuate its powers - would arouse grave suspicions that there may be truths too unsavoury to be redeemed, even by the most beguiling exponents of spin.

while there has been no more consistent advocate of openness, transparency and accountability, the refusal of such an INQUIRY would be a dereliction of all three.

Above all, since the Prime Minister took personal charge of the crisis, he would be using his powers to prevent scrutiny of his actions. That would to repeat the Nixon gambit, which became a prelude to ignominious checkmate. Indeed, in the improbable event that he were to block the calls for a powerful independent INQUIRY into all aspects of the current FMD outbreak, it would be so far out of proclaimed character that the assertion that two and two were four would be universally mistrusted, should it subsequently fall from his lips.

 

Bob Michell Veterinary Record Jul 9th

 

 

PRESS RELEASE SOUTH WEST GREEN PARTY

July 15,2001

Green Party calls for full PUBLIC INQUIRY on FMD:

The South West Green Party has renewed its call for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of the foot and mouth crisis. Having supported farmers and smallholders who resisted the cull of their animals throughout the crisis, the party has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett, to call for an independent INQUIRY, and a change of policy over foot and mouth.

 

 

----------------------------------------

 

, comparisons are being made with the same government's enthusiasm
in 1997 for a wide-ranging PUBLIC INQUIRY into BSE, for which no expense was
spared.  By the time INQUIRY Chairman Lord Phillips of Worth Maltravers had
delivered his sixteen-volume report in October 2000, the costs of the INQUIRY
were estimated at £27 million.

And while BSE was indeed a major crisis, with serious implications for both
farming and the nation, its total costs, in the order of £5 billion, pale
into insignificance compared with the £20 billion which the Institute of
Directors estimates that the foot and mouth epidemic will have cost the
nation, should it run into the autumn - which it shows every sign of doing.

 

to many
scientists and informed commentators - one of the most glaring examples of
government maladministration in modern history.  In fact, it is very hard to
think of any other example where a government agency has performed so badly,
causing such great disruption and agony, to so little effect at such enormous
expense.  On those grounds alone, a PUBLIC Inquiry's essential. .  In the BSE INQUIRY, New Labour saw the
opportunity for 'Tory-bashing'.  With foot and mouth disease, it only has
itself to blame.  Is Tony Blair man enough to put his record to the test?  Dr Richard North June 22

 

----------------------------------------

 

Owen Paterson MP(Con) the first thing we must do after the outbreak is over is to hold a full PUBLIC INQUIRY under a judge.

 

"The Government don't want an INQUIRY because it might be uncomfortable for them."
More than 1,700 Journal readers have so far backed the call for a public INQUIRY,

----------------------------------------

 

The Journal (Newcastle)

 

The country will suspect a Government whitewash if there is no independent PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth outbreak, Labour was warned yesterday....(July 17)

 

----------------------------------------

 

- if you haven't already done so, could you vote YES (or No.. since that's also your democratic right) for a proper PUBLIC INQUIRY

-rather than the behind closed doors "Sir Humphrey Appleby" one that the government favours - by going straight to the Farmers Weekly interactive site - 16 July 2001 Yes or No to a virus INQUIRY? By Mike Stones

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Prof Sir Robert May - President of the Royal Society, previous Chief Scientist, mentor of Anderson and Krebs, close associate of King, and newly appointed 'People's Peer' - is to

 

'head the Royal Society INQUIRY into the science behind the policy decisions on FMD'

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Key findings from the Report of the Committee of INQUIRY On Foot-and-Mouth Disease in 1968 (sometimes referred to as the Northampton Report on FMD)

In several places the Committee also reported on the carrier status of animals "the consensus of opinion among our scientific witnesses was that the danger of carrier animals had been exaggerated and that carriers in a susceptible population did not constitute a significant risk". This was supported by the EU Commission for the Control FMD at the time "only in exceptional cases are recovered animals able to transmit.... therefore would seem to play a very small role in the epizootiology of the disease".

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Alan and Rosie Beats Update June 22

From the Farmers Weekly website this evening:

RENEWED calls for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth crisis have been voiced by Conservative agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo.

Addressing the Commons on Thursday (21 June), Mr Yeo, repeated earlier demands by Tory leader William Hague, reports The Daily Telegraph.

"The scale of this epidemic makes it essential that a full PUBLIC Inquiry's held to establish how the disease reached Britain, why the government acted so slowly and ... often incompetently," he said.

Lib Dem agriculture spokesman Colin Breed said he hoped the government INQUIRY would be as independent and thorough as Lord Phillips' BSE INQUIRY.

But Margaret Beckett, head of the new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stopped short of promising a public INQUIRY.

Earlier this week junior agriculture minister Lord Whitty said there would be no repetition of the BSE INQUIRY which lasted two years and cost £2.7m.

"We need to learn lessons quickly," he explained.

Lord Whitty said it was up to the Prime Minister to decide whether the investigation will take the form of a public INQUIRY.

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Jonathan Miller in his article 'No Truth Please, we're British'

They were the dog that didn't bark. The media failed. For the most part, coverage has been biased, banal, scientifically illiterate and craven. The absence of INQUIRY or courage is a shame on the profession of journalism.

Even without the searching inquiry that could rewardingly be made into media coverage of this epidemic, it is possible to detect in the coverage some other themes.

The first is that the media hasn't a clue when it comes to science. Those who run newspapers and broadcasts rarely have any scientific background.

It is not just foot and mouth on which the media have abandoned independent INQUIRY, indignation and perseverance. Corporate journalism is part of the power structure and will rarely truly rock the boat. But the critical media failure does challenge journalism and its reason for being. On a professional level it is a terrible indictment of my profession that journalists have so comprehensively surrendered their duty to ask difficult questions.

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Addressing the Secretary of State, Mr Yeo said he had never known the
farming community so demoralised and called for a "full recovery plan" to
get it back on track.

Many rural businesses and farms needed cash help now and stressed the need
for additional compensation.
Calling for ministers to clarify their stance on vaccination to tackle foot
and mouth, he asked: "Why should this be reconsidered two months after the
Prime Minister said the country was on the 'home straight'.

"What purpose would it now serve?" he said.
Mr Yeo also called for a full, independent INQUIRY into the foot and mouth
crisis.
"The damage to the livestock industry, to the countryside and the rural
economy clearly justifies a full, independent public INQUIRY," he said.

Report June 27

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"Humpty Dumpty"

 

The blood testing scheme could never have been risked on a big scale pre
June 7. It has a capability of 60,000 tests/week and the true endemic nature
will surface; it is likely that the 30,000 a day slaughter will continue for
some time. Three to six million more to die is a confident projection. The
loss of perhaps 20% of our livestock is both a damning indictment of
incompetence and a watertight case for a swift in-depth INQUIRY, Michael
Meacher was slapped down by Blair for sharing this opinion.

 

As
Chairman of the Midlands MDC, I begged in the first weeks for a fact sheet
and poll on vaccination - "its politically incorrect" was the answer -
pathetic, I resign.

Dairying Today

James "Bonzo" Robertson

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Magnus Linklater

This week some of them met in London to go over the evidence again and to press for a public INQUIRY. People such as Dr Paul Sutmoller, who has helped to eradicate the disease in Latin America and the Caribbean, and probably knows more about it at first hand than anyone in the world. Or Dr Ruth Watkins, virologist and sheep breeder, who has pressed the case for vaccination with intelligence and passion. Or Simon Barteling, from The Netherlands, who could explain how the Dutch outbreak has been eliminated. They are not listened to by MAFF (now the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) because they challenge its methods and criticise its science. But Mr Blair could change all that. He could end the cult of secrecy, the lack of openness that has shrouded the disease and alienated farmers up and down the country.

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing to discuss

THERE is something almost flippant about the way in which Margaret Beckett, the new Rural Affairs Secretary, has sought to shrug off the demand by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for a proper INQUIRY into the foot and mouth epidemic. "The whole issue of an INQUIRY," she says, "continues to be under discussion."

Under discussion? She says this as if there were some question about the need for an INQUIRY or the breadth of its scope. If we were talking about a minor train crash on a suburban line, the Government would immediately have ordered a full INQUIRY to discover its causes, the way in which the emergency services had handled it and ways of preventing a similar accident in future.

Yet here is a disease that has led farmers to suicide and has wiped out two entire industries in some parts of the country. And here is Mrs Beckett saying that the issue of an INQUIRY is "under discussion". Only a week after its re-election, the Government is behaving as if it thinks that its mandate from 25

per cent of the electorate is a licence to get away with anything.

Magnus Linklater

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Fresh call for foot-and-mouth INQUIRY...

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has urged the Government to back a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the handling of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Anthony Gibson of the NFU says further cases are still a possibility The Government has said that decisions on the lessons to be learned will be taken only once the outbreak has ended.

The new Rural Affairs Secretary, Margaret Beckett, said that an INQUIRY is under review, but many scientists believe the crisis has exposed weaknesses in the way their advice is sought and used by ministers.

BBC Devon June 15th

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..The INQUIRY's first job must be to produce a step-by-step handbook to show exactly what must be done to prevent a future outbreak, and how to deal with one if it happens. But it must also examine the political handling of the crisis. So far, between five and 10 times more animals have been slaughtered than during the outbreak in 1967, in which more farms were infected than now. Has the scale of the cull been strictly necessary - or has it had something to do with the election date? It is not only the ruined farmers and hoteliers who deserve to know the truth, but also everyone who cares about responsible government. Telegraph editorial June 16

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At best, this Govt. is guilty of gross negligence. At worst, Labour's resistance to an INQUIRY is concealing a political scandal that could overshadow Blair's second term.")

Let's go for an Public Enquiry and show these irresponsible government clowns we are not amused at their claim to be "proud". (referring to Elliot Morley's comment that he was proud of the way the government was handling the foot and mouth crisis)

Bryn bryn@wayt.greatxscape.net

 

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Did this Early Day Motion ever see the light of early day?

FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE 08.05.01

Mr Tony Banks Tom Cox Mr Mike Hancock John Robertson Mr Gerry Steinberg Norman Godman John Cummings Jeremy Corbyn Bill Etherington AnnCryer 10 signatures so far

That this House acknowledges the appallingly difficult problems posed by the continuing outbreak of foot and mouth disease; looks forward to a full Government INQUIRY into the causes of the disease with consequential prosecutions of those responsible; congratulates the Minister of Agriculture on his dignified stance throughout these distressing times; and

asks him to call an end to the semi-demented policy pursued by his Department's officials of slaughtering healthy farm and pet animals, the extermination of which creates extreme distress to their owners and owes little or nothing to an appreciation of nature or science.

 

----------------------------------------

 

 

 

 

Experts of real distinction have been sidelined, their requests for data rejected, their input ignored. In direct contradiction to the recommendations of the Phillips INQUIRY into BSE, which said that dissenting scientists should always be listened to, they have become untouchables.

 

June 15 Linklater Whatever you call it, stupidity is the same

 

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"The Veterinary Dilemma" presented by Bob Michell, Professor Comparative Medicine at the University of London and member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Council.  Bob told us at a very early stage in his presentation that the RCVS had voted unanimously for a PUBLIC INQUIRY on the basis of the Northumberland Report AFTER the disease is over.   'Search for Truth' conference in London on Wednesday 13th June 2001

 

".  William (Neville) gave a very clear presentation on the options available with regard to recourse to law/PUBLIC INQUIRY and at the same time advised us not to confuse justice with the law!  He said there were five key considerations:

 

1.  Was there ever a legal basis to the contiguous cull

2.  There is a need to create a clear definition between adjoining and contiguous

3.  Why were clear EU procedures not followed - why did the UK policy exceed these

4.  Why were farmers put under such appalling pressure to give into contiguous cull

5.  Why were decision makers (slaughter/policy) allowed to overrule professionals (i.e. vets) on ground.

 

William identified the options available and the pros and cons attached to them:

 

Public INQUIRY

 

This is the strongest option available to us and would be held under the Tribunals and Inquiries Act.  It is also the most expensive remedy, it could be very protracted, doesn't provide compensation but is great for recrimination.

 

Tackling Problem at Source via OIE

 

This has to be the way ahead, but there is no redress, it only addresses the future.

 

Informal Complaint to MAFF/DEFRA

 

A definite pro of this approach is that it is cheap, a con that we cannot know how it will be applied and it is unlikely to be of help to any other business than farming

 

Parliamentary Ombudsman

 

Pro:

Open to all political parties

Has power to recommend

Can provide for compensation

It is cheap

It might pervade into areas of policy which Courts might otherwise decline

 

Con:

The Ombudsman decides what he will investigate and this will take time

 

Negligence Claim against Government

 

Pro: 

Best route for compensation

 

Con:

This is strictly limited to operational neglect, MAFF policy unlikely to be affected

It is costly

It is very slow (approx. 18 months)

The outcome is very uncertain since this method of approach goes to the heart of law -v- justice

 

Judicial Review

 

This is the process of challenging Government decision-making in Court and on this basis we could challenge:

 

Contiguous Cull

The decision not to vaccinate

The proposed cull of healthy animals found to have antibodies

 

This only bites if decisions of Government can be shown to be irrational, i.e. clearly and widely wrong, and against this we have to consider that there are still conflicting veterinary views and realistically recognise that Government "supporters" (i.e. policy makers) will all be fighting "tooth and nail" to protect their territory.

 

The best time for this approach has probably past since William considered that mid-May was the optimum time (a view shared by Jeremy Roe).

 

A great advantage of this approach is speed since a review can be carried out in as little as a week.

 

Since the meeting had already overrun by more than an hour there was just time for a few questions at the end and a request to sign agreement to the following letter being sent to Tony Blair:

 

Search for truth

 

CALL FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY

 

Dear Prime Minister

 

We, the undersigned, come from all walks of life, including farming, tourism, the research community, the media, the legal and veterinary professions, environmental and community activity - yet we share a common bond as citizens deeply concerned by our country's management of the current Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic.

This week marks the start of a new Government and the beginning of a new relationship between food production, environment and rural livelihood under a new Ministry

We therefore urge you, not only to end and sweep aside the misguided approaches of the past months, but also to ensure that we all learn from our mistakes and make certain that the destructive and harrowing events that have accompanied this outbreak of FMD never happens again.

It is our belief that only a full and open PUBLIC INQUIRY will enable all parts of our society to fully comprehend and learn from this outbreak and profound distress that has visited our countryside and rural communities in the past months.

We have all thought deeply about this epidemic and how it has been handled.  We have met together and surveyed some of its economic, political, scientific, legal, animal welfare and human aspects and have concluded that there is an overwhelming case for a detailed and public examination of these issues.

Our call is not concerned with seeking to apportion blame nor highlighting mistakes to embarrass or pillory any person, institution, department or government.  It is a call for transparency, a search for information that is openly presented and evaluated, so that all of us can learn and take steps to ensure that we never again find ourselves in this position.

Finally this epidemic has been massively traumatic for many individuals, families and communities and indeed for the country as a whole.  We believe that such an INQUIRY would help mitigate that trauma and thereby make a significant contribution to rebuilding and revitalising rural communities and economies.

We urge you to establish a full and open PUBLIC INQUIRY into the FMD outbreak, its management and its consequences.

Yours sincerely 

----------------------------------------

extract from Alicia Eykyns open letter to Margaret Beckett
also on behalf of the enclosed list of signatories

As far back as the 1968 Northumberland INQUIRY, it was acknowledged to be virtually impossible to carry out effective bio-security in a farming environment.

----------------------------------------

 

 

 

Yesterday in Parliament

 

Colin Breed (Lib Dem, South East Cornwall) said: "It's quite clear that the scale of this disease does demand a full public, open and independent INQUIRY and I hope ministers will recognise that."

Derek Foster (Lab, Bishop Auckland) said that, with 44 cases confirmed in his area, it had been a "disastrous" time for Teesdale. He said: "May I add my voice to those calling for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth disease."

Michael Jack (C, Fylde) said: "If the Government has nothing to hide, it has nothing to fear from holding a public INQUIRY."

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Western Morning news Jun 23

 

'On the subject of the essential PUBLIC INQUIRY into the epidemic and its handling, Mrs. Beckett went onto the back foot. And shattered her stumps. First we had the inevitable, infelicitous double negative: "The Government has no intention of not having an INQUIRY", she said decisively, stating that such an INQUIRY could "nail comprehensively many of the nonsenses and myths". And more, she sought to "highlight the many things which went well..."

'Again, she wandered into wishful delirium. The farming and rural communities, she averred, wanted an INQUIRY carried out "as expeditiously and as cheaply as possible".

'We have been at the centre of the crisis and have monitored its every turn. At no point have we heard this desire expressed. Our readers, and we, want an INQUIRY as exhaustive, as impartial and as expensive as necessary to inform subsequent generations, to ensure that responsible heads roll and to obviate the bungles, the savagery and the political expediency at the cost of pragmatism which has marked the management of import regulations and of the resultant epidemic. Mrs. Beckett plainly has every intention of avoiding, if possible, a public INQUIRY.

'It must not, it cannot, be avoided. We need to know why our region has been so exigently bled. And we need transfusions from those with far more blood to spare".

 

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for many in Cumbria the evidence points to a mishandling of the outbreak which, if it had occurred for example in a hospital, would lead to an INQUIRY and then possible disciplinary measures, changes in procedures, and compensation for those affected. In my view such an INQUIRY should be conducted into this outbreak on that basis.

Secondly we, that is to say the UK and the EU as a whole, must conduct a thorough review into the proper response to the threat, and possible future outbreaks of the disease. For my part I do not think the issues are quite as straightforward as sometimes is suggested. That is why plans by the EU, supported I believe by the UK Government, to start this process should be welcomed.

Yours,
INGLEWOOD
(Group of the European Peoples Party (Christian Democrat) and European Democrats),
Hutton-in-the-Forest,
Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9TH.
June 18.

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FROM PROFESSOR JOHN BLAXTER

Sir, I must be one of countless members of the electorate who are filled with anger and deep depression at the continuing mismanagement of the foot-and-mouth crisis (report and Comment, May 23). The lack of leadership from the politicians, the lack of contingency planning and general unpreparedness of MAFF, and the greed of the NFU and the big farmers are once again brought to our notice. Why has there been so little good science in the decision-making?

The killing of hundreds of thousands of healthy animals, often by totally unacceptable means, is a national disgrace. Why is so little heard about animal welfare from this nation of animal lovers? I hope that one of the first actions of the new government will be to set up an INQUIRY to ensure that we never repeat the folly of the past months.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN BLAXTER (Honorary Professor of Biology, University of Stirling),
Dems Lodge,
Barcaldine, Oban, Argyll PA37 1SF.
john@barcaldine.freeserve.co.uk

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Those with undiminished enthusiasm for the contiguous cull claim that it brought the outbreak under control, a claim which requires rigorous impartial statistical scrutiny. The predictive graph 'C (see VR, May 12, p 582) is compatible with the claim but in no way proves it. The rate of decline also looks remarkably similar to that for the 1967 outbreak. Granted that the decline began in the last week of March, the question is whether, allowing for incubation and regional variation, contiguous culling was the key factor; it almost seems to require a psychic effect to have such instantaneous impact. It is also hard to understand the significance of 'the number of new cases arising from each outbreak falling to less than one', when, unlike a human epidemic, many of the potential new cases have been pre-emptively added to the death toll: in terms of cost and misery they might as well have got it (and, in some instances, they may have had it). If the Geological Museum fell victim to an uncontrollable fire, would it be a reasonable precaution to pull down all contiguous museums? A huge number of animals have been killed compared with 1967, many without contact with infected premises. The exact reasons require independent scrutiny, and particularly whether minimisation of animals culled, and therefore of cost, was the primary objective or whether it was speed, and if so why? A powerful independent INQUIRY is therefore essential, once the outbreak is genuinely over. A. R. Michell,

 

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Villagers join the demands for answers By Robert Brooks
The Journal (Newcastle)

Communities which have had dead animal pits and pyres on their doorsteps have joined the call for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the cause and handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis.....July 11

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Need for INQUIRY on foot-and-mouth FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE
The Times (Letters)

MONDAY JULY 09 2001 Sir, Pressure in the countryside for the Government to announce a comprehensive and independent PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth epidemic is intensifying. ... the moment has come for the Government to pre-empt a growing suspicion of procrastination. There is legitimate and growing public concern in the minds of the people of rural Britain. ... the INQUIRY should examine the biological and social legitimacy of the current policy of disease eradication through slaughter. Announcing a PUBLIC INQUIRY does not mean that it must begin immediately. But doing so now will take the pressure off the increasing demand for legal cases to be mounted as it would make sense for such cases to be lodged only after the INQUIRY.

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Could the PM resist this pressure? by HoldTheFrontPage staff
Hold the Front Page co.uk

Western Morning News readers have overwhelmingly backed calls for an independent INQUIRY into the foot and mouth crisis. More than 2,300 people cast their vote in a phone poll with 97 per cent demanding an INQUIRY. Just 61 people voted against. The paper said the Government had so far only committed itself to a "proper" INQUIRY on the crisis and had fallen short of ordering an independent and PUBLIC INQUIRY where ministers could be publicly questioned on its handling. The vote echoes calls made in recent weeks by people in agriculture, as well as campaigners and politicians. And the Morning News' outspoken editorial column stormed: "Rural affairs minister Margaret Beckett loftily announced last week that she believed there was little appetite in the countryside for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth crisis. July 9

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(Another) Bishop calls for foot and mouth INQUIRY
Lancashire Evening Telegraph

THE Bishop of Blackburn is leading calls for a comprehensive Government INQUIRY into the foot and mouth crisis. The Rt Rev Alan Chesters prompted the General Synod, the Church of England's "parliament," to vote for a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the outbreak which has devastated large areas of rural Britain including the Ribble Valley. The Bishop, a member of the Government's rural task force, spoke about his experience as a diocesan bishop in an area where some of the first outbreaks occurred, and whose home looks out towards the so-called Settle-Clitheroe triangle where most of the latest cases have been confirmed. "I am acutely aware of the human cost to families and individuals, of the isolation, fear and total disillusionment felt by so many people," he said....July 9th

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9 July 2001 Bishop joins calls for virus INQUIRY
Farmers' Weekly

By FWi staff The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Jim Thompson, said delays by ministers have increased distrust of the government in the countryside. Ministers have promised an investigation into the outbreak and the lessons to be learned, but stopped short of pledging an independent public INQUIRY. Speaking to the BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Bishop said that ministers needed to make some sort of commitment now. "An INQUIRY is urgent, not in the sense that it must begin now, but it should be announced now and it should be committed to now," he said.

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Call for speedy FMD INQUIRY
The Journal (Newcastle)

The Government is facing renewed calls to announce quickly an independent PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Ministers have already indicated that lessons will be learned. But a Church of England bishop has joined countryside campaigners in calling on the Government to set out the remit of an INQUIRY. The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Jim Thompson, said: "One of the big problems ... is the lack of trust. I have rarely come across such distrust between a whole section of community and government. This distrust will keep on fouling up the inevitable and important reconciliation between government and the agricultural (community).."

9 July 2001

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South west calls for PUBLIC INQUIRY into foot-and-mouth epidemic BOB GEDDES
Glasgow Herald

A CALL for a full-scale PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot-and-mouth epidemic has come from farmers in the south west of Scotland, where more than half a million animals were slaughtered. Peter Duncan, Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MP, and MSP Alex Fergusson backed the members of Stewartry branch of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland (NFUS) in calling for the INQUIRY. Ronnie Wilson, Stewartry vice-president, said it was vital that an INQUIRY was held, but added the government seemed to be backing away from such a move..... July9

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Why we need a public INQUIRY
The Journal (Newcastle)

The Journal is running a PUBLIC INQUIRYCAMPAIGN called Tell Us the Truth
The Journal, politicians from all the main parties, farmers, business people and those unfortunate enough to live near animal disposal sites, now call on Tony Blair to hold a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the cause and handling of the epidemic. As yet more animals were slaughtered in the North-East yesterday, we are calling on readers to petition the Government to commit to holding a full, open and transparent investigation into the cause and handling of a crisis which has cost billions of pounds. ..Last night there were allegations that the Government fears what may emerge from a full, frank and open examination of the facts. This is denied

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Farmers and MPs lead the calls for INQUIRY
The Journal

Tory Penrith and the Borders MP David Maclean is among a clutch of politicians from all parties who wants to see a public INQUIRY. He said: "I have called for a full, free and independent INQUIRY into all aspects of foot- and-mouth. We cannot have a whitewash job by a retired Maff civil servant who pins the blame on Bobby Waugh at Heddon-on-the-Wall and some sheep dealers. "An INQUIRY must also investigate the role of the chief scientist. The indiscriminate contiguous cull policy was devised by the chief scientist and based on mathematical modelling, not veterinary advice. "What was the driving motivation behind a policy to kill everything quickly? Were our animals killed to meet a deadline of June 7? We need to know. July 7

 

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FARMERS CALL FOR INQUIRY
Galloway News

A CALL for a full-scale PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth epidemic has come from farmers in the Stewartry. ....On vaccination we need to have a full discussion on it and in the heat of the moment that was not the time to be looking at it,'' he said. .....``We won't get away with ruining the tourist industry and closing down businesses. We have got to have another strategy in place. I'm not saying what was right and what was wrong, I just don't want it to be set on the back burner.'' ``I would like to see vaccination being looked at sooner rather than later,'' he said ... the Government was looking at new vaccines and going back to Europe to get changes in the way that vaccination would be allowed. Mr Nelson said the NFU did make mistakes and added that the contiguous cull was becoming increasingly unjustifiable. ``That was one mistake. Secondly I did agree that vaccination wasn't an option at the time but in the fullness of time I changed my mind.''

 

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Minister's 'nonsense' over INQUIRY call
Western Morning News

...Lib-Dem MP Colin Breed said it was nonsense to suggest that those calling for a PUBLIC INQUIRY were behaving irresponsibly. Mr Breed, MP for South East Cornwall and his party's rural affairs spokesman, said he was becoming increasingly concerned that the Government was planning to duck a PUBLIC INQUIRY into its handling of the crisis. He added: "It is not irresponsible at all to call for a public INQUIRY. The reason we want a PUBLIC Inquiry's because that is the only type of investigation that will sit in public and that will be able to call Ministers and former Ministers. Most of the former MAFF Ministers have now gone and unless the INQUIRY can call them it will be of little value. July 6th

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PUBLIC INQUIRY must take place
Craven Herald

......an emotional and angry audience, many of whom were convinced that the foot and mouth epidemic is a European plot to reduce livestock numbers. Shouted down, jeered, they could only explain what the policy is, not justify it. The people in the audience had real questions they wanted answered. Some wanted to preach to the converted but others did pose lucid, clear questions and deserve an answer which civil servants were never going to be able to give. Their role is to execute not devise policy. .... for the benefit of all, those who believe in conspiracy theories and those who accept that this is a freak of nature, the Government must hold a public INQUIRY...how the epidemic started, how it spread, examine the role of those sent to deal with it and, most importantly, determine whether or not culling or modern vaccination is the most effective way of dealing with it. Just quite why the Government has set its face against a PUBLIC Inquiry's a mystery. July 2

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Calls for INQUIRY into £2.5 billion outbreak
Western Morning News

..News that the outbreak has cost the Government the equivalent of a 1p rise in the basic rate of income tax yesterday served to intensify calls for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into Defra's handling of foot and mouth. Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat MP for Truro and St Austell and his party's Treasury spokesman, said: "The Government says it cannot find the money for schools and hospitals, yet it found the money for foot and mouth without blinking. "That makes the case for a PUBLIC INQUIRY even more clear. Huge amounts of public money have been spent with very little scrutiny by Parliament."July 3

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JUNE 18TH, 8.50am: MACLEAN CALLS FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY
Cumbria News and Star

The INQUIRY, says the Conservative MP, must not be a little whitewash job but should investigate all aspects of the catastrophe including conspiracy theories and Maffs foot and mouth contingency plan. Mr Maclean says he will demand a full, free and independent INQUIRY when the new Parliament meets for the first time on Wednesday. ...The indiscriminate contiguous cull policy devised by Professor King was based on mathematical modelling not veterinary advice, Mr Maclean claims, and hundreds of vets in Cumbria, Scotland and Devon complained to Mr Blair that it was obscene, unethical and unnecessary before it was eventually dropped.

18th June

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The disease that refuses to die
BBC

..Unless the government bows to pressure and holds a PUBLIC INQUIRY into its own performance, suspicions will persist that it could have done better and ended the disaster sooner 16th June

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Foot-and-mouth INQUIRY demanded
BBC

The RCVS - the professional body regulating vets - said the government should commit to a full PUBLIC INQUIRY even if it does not begin until the disease is eradicated. Along with many scientists, it believes the crisis has exposed serious weaknesses in the way scientific advice is sought and used by ministers. 15th June

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Foot and mouth 'gag' on farmers is abandoned By David Brown and Charles Clover
Telegraph

The row intensified pressure on the Government to hold a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the epidemic. The Conservatives stepped up demands yesterday for an INQUIRY. Tim Yeo, shadow secretary for the environment, food and rural affairs, said: "The more we find out about the Government's behaviour during this crisis, the more sinister it seems." June 13

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Trading officers want INQUIRY on foot and mouth By David Brown, Agriculture Editor
Telegraph

TRADING standards officers attacked the handling of the foot and mouth epidemic yesterday and demanded a PUBLIC INQUIRY into its "catastrophic effects".... June 9th

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June 5th Why isn't the Government paying for foot and mouth? By Matt Ridley
Telegraph

...HOW easily we all become inured to horror. Imagine if somebody had told you in February that by early June, the Government would have slaughtered more than three million livestock on 7,700 farms; that it would still be slaughtering them at the rate of up to 80,000 a day; that all across the north and west of the country, the tourist industry would be in ruins; and that this same Government would be coasting to victory in the general election. You would have refused to believe them.

. It silenced the vets.

If you speak to vets privately you get a torrent of complaint at the incompetence of their masters, but one word to the press and they are in trouble. The Data Protection Act was cited to avoid counting the slaughter of healthy animals. With great cunning, blame was drip-fed on to the farmers and away from ministers.

 

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There must be a PUBLIC INQUIRY into the foot and mouth saga

Special report: foot and mouth disease Jonathan Freedland
Guardian
~

Not one group or institution involved emerges with any credit; they all failed in their most basic duty. Long after the last pyre has stopped burning, foot and mouth will stand as an indictment of British public life - and of the very way we govern ourselves. 16th May

 

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If anything had been learned by MAFF from the BSE INQUIRY, which had reported a mere six months previously, it was "don't put your chief vet on the stage", after the disastrous performance of Keith Meldrum during the BSE crisis. Sure enough, the present incumbent, Jim Scud more, had been "disappeared". His place was taken by a media friendly front-man. This was professional chemist and government chief scientific adviser, Prof. David King expert in substituting charm for a complete lack of relevant qualifications and experience. With scarcely a blush, he presented MPs with a series of graphs, based on computer projections of dubious provenance prepared by chair-bound statisticians from Imperial College, London. By complete coincidence, one of the graphs showed the epidemic skidding to a halt on exactly 7 June.

 

That still left the cattle which, in the main, had been housed over winter and thus protected from the legions of infected sheep. Now due to be turned out, they were poised to add new fuel to the epidemic, cohorts of fresh victims ready for the burning. Although, as early as 30 March, the British government had successfully applied for and had been granted permission by the EU Commission to vaccinate the cattle in Cumbria and Devon, for the very purpose of protecting them from the sheep, Brown had now ruled out this strategy.

 

Thus deprived of the only sensible control option, the Einsatzgruppen launched with gusto into a new wave of killing, extending the indiscriminate "cull" to eliminate every sheep in Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria, Northumbria, the Forest of Dean and Devon. With the aid of a Charollais-cross calf renamed Phoenix, which somewhat implausibly survived five days in a heap of dead cattle, the intensified killing was heavily disguised as a relaxation of the cull. The cattle were to be spared only the sheep were to die.

 

And die they did. With 2,000 troops mobilised, the body-count shot past the two million mark and continued rising. As it did, tales of utter barbarity began to filter out.

Richard North Prologue

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From the Telegraph by Christopher Booker:

Why there is no independent INQUIRY IT may not have made headlines, but last week another 93,000 animals were slaughtered as the foot and mouth epidemic continued on its way. This may be by far the worst catastrophe ever to hit Britain's countryside, inflicting damage on the nation's economy estimated at £20 billion.

However, it was hardly surprising that ministers should have confirmed last week that the Government has no plans to commission a proper independent INQUIRY into this disaster, similar to the one that followed the much smaller outbreak in the 1960s, because it could not dare allow such a thing.

For a start, such an INQUIRY would have to ask why all the conclusions reached by that 1969 report were ignored, not least because ultimate control over foot and mouth policy had been handed over to the European Union.

It would have to investigate why the British Government itself then turned the 2001 epidemic into such an obscene shambles; why running of the crisis was handed over from vets to unqualified scientists and political spin-doctors; why the Government shamelessly fiddled the figures for electoral purposes; why officials were allowed to break the law on such a colossal scale, not least in killing millions of healthy animals under the "contiguous cull" policy; why, as Roger Windsor, a council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, recently told his colleagues, vets were routinely blackmailed by ministry officials into breaking their professional code of conduct; above all why 95 per cent of all this chaos, horror and misery could have been avoided if the Government had heeded almost every leading foot and mouth expert in the world and switched, as soon as it was clear the epidemic was out of control, from mass slaughter to mass vaccination.

It was one thing for Mr Blair to spend £27 million on the largely pointless Phillips INQUIRY into BSE, with its convenient cut-off date of March 20, 1996, so that any blame would attach to the previous Tory government. It would be quite another to allow a truly independent enquiry into what has been one of the worst acts of maladministration on record, for which no one was ultimately more responsible than Mr Blair himself. Christopher Booker

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the Western Morning News 29 June

Tony Blair yesterday repeated his claim that the foot and mouth crisis was
in the "home straight" and blamed lax disinfection procedures in the farming
community for the continuing spread of the disease. The Prime Minister again ducked calls for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the
disaster, pledging only that there would be a "proper" INQUIRY when the
epidemic was finally over.
Tory leader William Hague said the scale of the crisis made a full-scale
PUBLIC INQUIRY essential. Mr Hague said that the abolition of the Ministry
of Agriculture and the removal of Nick Brown and other former ministers made
it impossible for Parliament to scrutinise the Government's handling of the
crisis.
He said: "Losses to farmers are now running at £250 million a month, it is
the worst epidemic on record. Losses to tourism are estimated at £5 billion
this year and large parts of the countryside remain closed today.
"Many rural businesses face ruin. A commitment to a full, public and
independent INQUIRY could be given today. There is huge suspicion in the
countryside about how the epidemic began and how it was handled. The only
way to allay those suspicions and find the truth is for a full, independent
and public INQUIRY."

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Labour and the farmers

It seems extremely unlikely that the new Labour government will hold a public enquiry into this year's foot and mouth disaster, if only because the government, as well as everyone else, comes out of it so badly.

It was of course the Labour government who, all too late, instigated the PUBLIC INQUIRY into the BSE disaster. It may be much longer before a new Tory government can investigate this 'Labour' disaster.

Barry Wilson

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The Government also refused to bow to demands from all sides of the Commons for a full PUBLIC INQUIRY into the disease.

Ms Beckett, who insisted ministers had "nothing to fear and nothing to be ashamed of" would promise only a "thorough" INQUIRY and accused the Tories of pressing for a PUBLIC INQUIRY to try to play "party political games".

Yorkshire Post June 29

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Telegraph July 2 Delays "Doubled" the foot and mouth toll

Reports by Roger Highfield Science Editor

Sir John Krebs, head of the Food Standards Agency, that epidemiologists got access to the data critical for their calculations as soon as they did.

Sir John told Dispatches: "One of the lessons we learned from the Phillips INQUIRY into BSE is that we should always seek not just the immediate scientific advice to hand but seek the best advice we can."

He believes that if "all the stops had been pulled out by everybody in the government, we might have been able to get the advice a week or so earlier".

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