I fear many farmers like him who have been treated in this manner will never trust a vet again.Have at last heard back from the RCVS, about the complaint that I made on behalf of Mr. P, which has just been considered by the Preliminary Investigation Committee. As some of you will remember, Mr. P had all the animals killed on his farm (pigs, cattle, sheep, even pullets) because of 'dangerous contact' - and then, a ewe and her lamb which had somehow escaped the cull turned up later and Mr. P decided to keep them,saying that they brought him one last little ray of hope. Unfortunately, MAFF noticed them and said they must be slaughtered but, as it was 31 days since the cull, Mr. P refused to allow them on his land, and demanded a blood test for the sheep.
MAFF refused to do a blood test, a deadlock was reached - and Mr. P was told that nothing would be done that day, but that MAFF would seek an injunction. He went to fetch his grandchild home from school and, when he came back,the ewe and lamb were dead on the path and just about to be taken away. No A notice had been served. Mr. P was desperately upset and became very depressed and ill - as well as losing his last creatures, he was shocked that a vet had lied to him and betrayed him (as he said, he had always been brought up to have a great respect for vets and couldn't believe that this had happened - he was also horrified by the bullying and unpleasant way in which Mrs. Beavan had spoken to him). I helped him put in a complaint to the RCVS months ago - and we have just heard the result. This is a copy of the letter they sent to Mr. P:
Well, so that's all right then!!
Further to Ms Butler's letter of 5 December I confirm that the Preliminary Investigation Committee considered your complaint against Mr. O'Brien on 20 December, 2001. Although no issue of professional conduct was identified at the beginning of the case, the College asked both Mr. O'Brien and, later, Mrs. Beavan for comments on the complaint.
In addition to the papers you submitted, the Committee took into account Mr. O'Brien's letters in response to your complaint and a letter on behalf of both Mr. O'Brien and Mrs. Beavan from the Treasury Solicitor. I enclose copies for information (I, Quita, haven't seen these, incidentally, yet).
Your complaint involved a ewe and lamb that were identified to be culled but escaped the cull and were noticed some 31 days later and then culled in circumstances where you considered that you had been misled by Mr. O'Brien.
After careful consideration the Preliminary Investigation Committee decided that your complaint should not proceed further and I therefore write to inform you that this matter will be closed.
The Committee noted government policy regarding the Foot and Mouth Disease incubation period for sheep, which reads:
'If, exceptionally, there remain contiguous premises where 21 days have passed since the date of confirmation of FMD at the relevant infected place, cattle and pigs which have been clinically examined and found healthy can be assumed not to have become infected, and should not be compulsorily slaughtered. However, sheep and goats present should be slaughtered as clinical symptoms may not be apparent'.
Committee members were sympathetic to the view that your sheep posed little risk and could even have been subjected to blood tests. However, Mr. O'Brien had no option but to carry out the instructions of his superior officer, Mrs. Beavan, the acting Divisional Veterinary Manager.
The Committee also considered whether Mr. O'Brien misled you into believing that nothing would be done to the ewe and the lamb in your absence. This would not raise a conduct issue unless there was evidence that Mr. O'Brien intended to deceive you. He has said that although he knew that your ewe and lamb would in due course have to be compulsorily slaughtered, he believed the process would take some time and had no intention of misleading you. In the event he was instructed to slaughter them on the afternoon in question. The Committee found no reason to disbelieve his account.
In the circumstances, as the Committee found no indication of serious professional misconduct on the behalf of either Mr. O'Brien or Mrs. Beavan, your complaint will now be closed. I hope this letter helps to explain the reasoning behind the decision to take the matter no further.
Head of Professional Conduct/Assistant Registrar
I am furiously angry about this - poor gentle, kindly Mr. P hasn't even received an apology. I fear many farmers like him who have been treated in this manner will never trust a vet again.