Back to website

The Northern Echo 30th April 2001


Army denies its meat caused the epidemic


The Army denied last night that it was responsible for the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

But it admitted it supplied waste food to the pig farm at the centre of the outbreak.

Slops from the kitchen at Whitburn Training Camp, near Sunderland, were fed to pigs at Bobby and Ronnie Waugh's farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, a spokeswoman said.

But all food provided by caterers at the camp conformed to British and European rules that ban imports from areas hit by the disease, she added, refuting claims that infected meat from Brazil and Uruguay, where foot-and-mouth is widespread, had been used at Whitburn.

The brothers collected waste food from the camp ten times a year for processing, under licence, into pig feed.

The last collection was in December, two months before the disease was confirmed at the farm.

But last night, the Army spokeswoman said that Whitburn was just one of a number of sources of waste food used by the brothers to feed their animals.

She said: "We have no reason to believe that any Ministry of Defence establishment is involved in this at all.

"We are very confident in the standard of meat that we buy."

Meanwhile, a Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) vet yesterday risked dismissal by speaking out over claims made against Mr Waugh, saying he was not responsible for sparking the disease.

Dr Stuart Renton, a vet for 30 years, said he and other vets were certain the disease was around before it was supposedly traced to the Heddon piggery.

Dr Renton, working out of the foot-and-mouth disease control centre at Kenton Bar, Newcastle, said: "Long standing foot-and-mouth lesions are being found in sheep nationally, indicating the disease was probably present before the initial outbreak in Heddon."

Mr Waugh, who has always maintained his innocence, said yesterday: "I am now waiting for the Government to admit they got it wrong and clear my name."

A Maff spokeswoman said "We have never said the outbreak definitely started at Mr Waugh's farm. We only said it was the likely source and were not pointing fingers."