News just in! The FMD fundraising event due to take place over the weekend
of 27th/28th October at Westpoint, Exeter has been cancelled. In its place
there is an outline plan for a similar event at Bicton college in April of
Meanwhile, Hector Christie and John Gouriet are planning a
demonstration/march on the 27th to DEFRA headquarters in Gloucester - more
details when we have them.
Also, out today is the November issue of "Country Smallholding" magazine
with part 2 of Alan's FMD article within.
A broadside from Richard:
I despair at the constant refrains about limiting imports of food. As long
as we are in the EU, our government has no power to control imports at all.
It seems to escape people that we have, under Article 133 TEC, a Common
Commercial Policy (just as we have a Common Agricultural Policy) where such
matters as trading agreements with third countries are determined by a
Frenchman, Pascal Lamy, also an EU Commissioner. We are bound to abide by
the agreements he negotiates, which makes nonsense of any wishful thinking
that we can actually control our own destiny. It really is time that the
'wishful thinkers' recognised this reality.
Our comment: Richard conveys in his own inimitable style what we all know
to be the case in theory - but the French don't seem to be obeying the
rules about UK beef imports, do they? So the UK can pick and choose to suit
itself as well. Personally we are sick to the back teeth with rules
anyway - but see the next message!
As more and more evidence of Maff/Defra mishandling of the 2001 foot and
mouth outbrake emerges, in such as Alan Richardson's paper and the evidence
submitted to the Devon enquiry, the inferences to be drawn by us, the
residents of the UK, are dire. Christopher Booker in his Notebook today
[14/10/01], blames the EU. I suggest that the real problems are more
disturbing; and closer to home. The shortcomings in management and quality
of staffing which Alan Richardson describes cannot be blamed on the EU: and
Christopher Booker points out that the worst aspect of the handling of the
outbreak, like "slaughter on suspicion" and "the contiguous cull" were
Maff's own additions to the EU rules. Earlier, it was not the EU that
imposed the system of inspection charges on small abattoirs that drove them
out of business in their thousands: it was our own government, Maff, our
Civil Service. It is not the EU which makes it illegal for us to sell our
wares in pounds and ounces: French and Spanish traders, for example, don't
have to obey this daft law: it is something specially imposed on us by our
Robert Heller, author of 'Roads to Success', writing in the Observer on 12th
points out that while "The truly modern business decentralises wherever and
as far as possible. Blair Ltd proudly does the reverse." He points out that
this control freakery is not the exclusive preserve of New Labour: Mrs
Thatcher was a notable proponent too. Our government "has only to see a
'problem' to monopolise the solution. Whether it's foot and mouth, teaching
standards, the Underground, hospital waiting lists, railway safety or
business competition, the Man in Whitehall knows not only better, but best.
When the centralised answer (as usual) fails, another monster promptly rears
its ugly head." This is despite the advice of experienced managers, like
General Gus Pagonis [the 'maestro of Gulf War logistics'], who maintained
that "wholesale reorganisation is a company's worst course": and Nestli's
CEO, Peter Brabeck, who "has likewise attacked 'big disruptive change
programmes' and their underestimated 'traumatic impact'." Robert Heller
points out that "every reorganisation upsets relationships, threatens
morale, delivers unexpected and usually deleterious side-effects, diverts
management time from external issues (like pleasing customers), and often
only paves the way for the next pointless upheaval."
This wisdom can be applied to the disastrous management arrangements for
tackling foot and mouth disease, or the appalling scenarios for the
re-organising of British Farming. [Say again: 'big disruptive change
programmes' and their underestimated 'traumatic impact': and "every
reorganisation upsets relationships, threatens morale, delivers unexpected
and usually deleterious side-effects, diverts management time from external
issues (like pleasing customers), and often only paves the way for the next
Do we really want to live in a countryside controlled by employees of
subsidiaries of Pharmacia [like Monsanto] and the Tyson Foods Corporation,
on the one hand and of the National Trust on the other? A mixture of food
factory wastelands and untended wilds with Rural Theme Parks? Where we can
only buy processed foods imported by Multinational traders from the
Disadvantaged in the 'Third World'?
Robert Heller poses the alternative to the dead hand of centralisation, the
model recommended by competent management: "The decentralised model means to
end this nonsense once and for all. You split organisations into discrete
units, as near to the front-line and the customers as possible: place the
units under autonomous managements with authority to deliver on their
promises, then sit back and supervise. If failure makes intervention
inevitable, you intervene - not to change the system, but the management."
In our Countryside, what better "autonomous managements with authority to
deliver on their promises" or "discrete units, as near to the front-line and
the customers as possible" could there be than our farmers, with their small
Those of us who are farmers must work together to defend ourselves and make
sure that we get our message across to the part of the population who live
in our towns and suburbs. Selling produce direct through Farmers' Markets
provides an ideal practical opportunity to do this [it also makes economic
sense]. Although we have been fighting to maintain the 'biosecurity of our
farm and trying to discourage the walkers we usually welcome: but David
Handley of 'Farmers For Action' reminds us that he has a footpath which runs
right through his farmyard. He ensures that any walkers he encounters there
leave the farm with full knowledge of the plight of the British Family Farm.
We must wake up and resist the true source of the threat to our way of life:
our own governments, with their misguided preoccupation with centralisation
and control. We must make it absolutely clear that we object to the loss of
our own power to decide - and do whatever we can to frustrate the
centralising tendancy. If we fail to grasp this nettle, it will matter
little whether we are inside or outside the EU. We will still be in the
hands of our own homegrown dictorship!
Our comment: Absolutely accurate analysis and we agree completely with
Lawrence's conclusions. The control-freakery of successive UK governments
is perfectly illustrated by the FMD crisis, but is by no means confined to
it, and we could add many more examples to the above list. We do have to
"grasp this nettle", and grasp it now.
Yet more correspondence with Pirbright on carriers and the persistent state
of infection, prompted by this first message:
From: Roger Clague
Sent: 10 October 2001 17:34
Subject: FMD persistent infection
I have been reading your interesting newsletter recently. I am glad to see
that you have been debating the FMD persistent carriers issue. You correctly
point out that the DEFRA policy is that animals with FMD anti-bodies must be
The presence of FMD anti-bodies means recent exposure to FMDV or vaccine.
They argue that live virus can continue to be shed. They are claiming that
anti-bodies do not work. If anti-bodies do not work then also vaccines do
What is the evidence? The most authoritative source is the OIE Manual of
Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines 2000. They say
1. Following recovery from the acute stage of infection, infectious virus
disappears from all secretions and excretions with the exception, in
ruminants, of those of oesophageal/pharyngeal (OP) origin.
2. Pigs do not become carriers
3. Circumstantial evidence indicates that carriers are able, on rare
occasions, able to transmit the infection
4. The mechanism is not known
If we were not subject to unnecessary laws, we could simply continue to
believe as we do that this is nonsense and vaccinate. As they do
successfully in many places.
To base policies on circumstantial evidence and no mechanism is a scandal.
It also wrong that experimental evidence of non-transmission is ignored.
What is a scientific response to this? It is to propose a mechanism that is
1. Is consistent with existing knowledge
2. Explains the existing facts
3. Leads to a simple unambiguous practical test
My theory is that the infectious virus in the OP fluid is from cells
scrapped from the thyroid.
The OP fluid is collected using a metal cup on a long stick. The sample has
to have cells in it.
The thyroid gland is part of the immune system. There are no anti-bodies in
the immune system. Thyroid tissue is used in the lab to grow viruses. So
virus can reproduce in small quantities in a limited area.
Any virus that leaves the thyroid will be neutralised by anti-bodies.
Infectious virus is not found in pigs after 28 days because pigs have a
different thyroid and also are more efficient animals so the virus is
The cicumstancial evidence quoted also can be explained. Recovered animals
caused infection only when moved. It is more likely that people and vehicles
moving the animals carried the virus not the animals themselves.
Checking where exactly the virus is found can test and prove or disprove my
I call on Pirbright to do the experiments to test my theory.
From: alan & rosie beat [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 11 October 2001 22:11
To: Andrew King
Subject: FW: FMD persistent infection
Thank you for your prompt response to my query on blood testing, which I
have forwarded to the people concerned. Now here's another challenge.
We have discussed carrier animals at length already, but this correspondent
has raised a slightly different slant. I think we all agree that virus can
and does persist in the thyroid gland of some animals post infection. What
he is suggesting is that the virus can only exist here because this gland is
part of the immune system, and has no antibodies. As soon as the virus
leaves this safe haven, it will be neutralised by the antibodies present
beyond the thyroid. In other words, unless you scrape it out artificially
as in a probang test, it cannot escape.
Your comments please!
Reply from Pirbright:
First, I don't think the thyroid gland has anything to do with persistence.
There have been reports of FMDV persisting in the tonsils, but the very
careful work done over recent years by Soren Alexandersen and his
colleagues, first in Denmark, and now here, have not confirmed that. The
virus seems to carried mainly, if not entirely, in a patch of specialised
epithelium (skin) lining the dorsal (back) soft palate. The nature of the
persistent state is very mysterious because this tissue propagates and sheds
the virus without showing signs of disease. That is quite unlike all the
other infected skin tissues which become acutely inflamed and diseased. The
site of persistence is also the site where the virus first infects the cow
or sheep. In pigs this bit of epithelium appears to be different, certainly
much smaller in area, and that difference may be connected with the fact
that pigs (i) are virtually uninfectable by the airborne route and (ii)
don't become persistently infected.
That is just for your information - I find the subject fascinating - but I
haven't really answered your questions. Probangs are intended to sample
oropharyngeal secretions (saliva) although it is true that the scraping
inevitably involves removing some surface cells. However, these aren't the
cells that carry the virus. Like all epithelia, the tissue is actively
dividing underneath, continually pushing new layers of cells outwards
towards the surface. The outer layers stop dividing, and do not harbour
virus (FMDV likes actively dividing cells). By the time the cells reach the
surface they are dead, and it is those that float around in probang samples.
It is true that some of the virus in saliva is neutralised by secretory
antibodies (IgA). Thus, the numbers of infectious particles in probang
samples tends to increase if the fluid is shaken vigorously with an organic
solvent, like ether, which removes protein (antibody) stuck on the virus but
doesn't kill the virus itself. However, infectivity can still be detected
without that treatment. Jane Barribal told me very definitely that the
saliva of carriers is only infectious under experimental conditions, not out
in the field. I can think of no reason why that might be so, however, and my
vet colleagues assure me that it isn't.
A further, minor, point is that neutralised virus is not necessarily
uninfectious. There are several well-known examples with other kinds of
virus where antibodies attached to the virion actually enhance infectivity
and make the disease much worse. Sure! Such complexes of virus and antibody
may not be able to infect cultured cells in the test tube - in that sense
they are "neutralised" - but in the living animal things can be different.
It depends on the particular kind of virus and the particular antibody. Some
antibody-virus complexes which are still infectious for cell cultures turn
out to be non-infectious in the living animal (they are "neutralised" by
being gobbled up by white blood cells) while some antibody-virus complexes
that are "neutralised" in culture can still infect an animal. The latter
occurs because there are specialised cells that have receptors for binding
antibodies, and, even if they lack the right receptors for naked FMDV, these
cells can bind antibody and so take up any FMDV attached to the antibody.
This is a mechanism of infection in which Fred Brown used to have a
particular interest. Peter Mason at Plum Island did a brilliant experiment
several years ago with cells that had been engineered to make an
antibody-binding surface receptor. He showed that, although these engineered
cells were resistant to naked FMDV, they could be infected - and used to
grow FMDV very efficiently - if the infecting virions were first mixed with
antibody. So what was non-infectious for normal cells was infectious for
these cells, and vice-versa. I should stress that there is no evidence that
this happens in nature. One can argue until the cows (ha ha!) come home. On
the one hand, high anti-FMDV antibody levels tend to be associated with high
levels of protection against disease; i.e. antibodies are "good thing". But,
on the other hand, antibodies provide little, if any, protection against
persistent infection and the carrier state. So! All in all, I am not saying
that "neutralised" salivary FMDV definitely CAN infect animals, merely that
it is risky to assume it can't.
More generally, there is always an element of risk (just an element!) in
applying evidence from the test tube to control policy in the field. And
those who bear the responsibility for determining FMDV control policy hate
Then a second reply straight afterwards:
I replied immediately to YOUR message yesterday, without noticing the text
of Roger Clague's message to you tucked in behind. I don't really understand
where he is coming from. Why is it unreasonable to take precautions against
a low, but most probably ACTUAL, risk of an extremely damaging event? A new
epidemic starting in a country that had been disease-free for, say, six
months, and had renewed its international accreditation to trade in meat and
livestock, would be a terribly bitter blow. Who in their right mind wants to
rear, and deal in, animals that dribble FMDV - fresh, infectious FMDV!!! -
for months on end?
As I have repeatedly said, lots of viruses establish persistent or latent
infections. The more we look for persistence, the more widely we find it.
All reputable virologists believe that viruses persist for a reason, namely,
to give themselves a selective advantage in spreading infection. However
sophisticated the arguments adduced by Fred, Roger Clague, etc, for
regarding carriers as harmless, it is all so much wishful thinking.
If you decide to control an FMD epidemic by ring vaccination, vaccinated
animals must eventually be eliminated (as in Holland). It can be argued
that, if one is going to slaughter the animals anyway, then one may as well
get on with it and skip the vaccination step (which unlike slaughter takes
time to "work"). Obviously, the more widely you vaccinate, the greater the
number of animals you are condemning. Whether ring vaccination followed by
slaughter of all vaccinates can be any help in controlling FMD depends on a
complex slew of assumptions, but the best modelling studies suggest that it
is very difficult to get ahead of such a fast moving and unpredictable
virus. Conclusion: Ring vaccinations seems to be highly problematic.
If you want to allow the vaccinated animals to live, and be moved and
marketed freely, then ring vaccination is out. You will need to vaccinate
ALL the cattle (at least) across the entire country/free-trade zone. This
option entails costs, among them a delay of at least two years before you
can expect to be declared free of disease. It also happens to be illegal
under current EU law. But it is a feasible strategy for controlling an FMD
epidemic, and it is a strategy which may have to be used next time, if there
is a "next time", not because it would necessarily benefit agriculture, but
for the protection of tourism and the government's electoral neck.
A third option: Get EU policy changed and vaccinate permanently against FMD
on a Europe-wide basis, like e.g. measles. But that is astronomically
expensive, because you are talking about vaccinating every cow in Europe
every six months, decade in, decade out. It would also put Europe at a
trading disadvantage. Possible! But I doubt it.
We'll see what the inquiries come up with.
Our comment: We have slogged all through these issues several times already
without reconciling the different views that are held. In summary, the
veterinary scientists seem to fall into two distinct camps; those like
Andrew above, who believe that carriers can cause new disease outbreaks; and
those like Fred Brown who believe that they cannot. Both have put forward
convincing arguments to support their respective points of view. We don't
pretend to know which view is correct - what we do know is that the
perceived risk from carriers has nothing to do with disease control.
Assuming for a moment that it does happen, the very rare event of an FMD
outbreak arising unexpectedly from vaccinated animals is not much of a
problem in disease control terms. It's a very small price to pay for the
protection offered to the wider population by vaccination. If one new
outbreak is the price for eliminating the disease across whole regions of a
country, it's a low price to pay and a small risk worth running.
The only serious effect of an isolated new outbreak is on international
trade. It is the trading rules, and only these rules, that create the whole
set of problems that surround carrier animals. When one new outbreak stops
exports from a large area, even a whole country, for months or years at a
time, then the "risk" of that happening is viewed in a very different light
We are not going to see any relaxation of the "official" UK position on
carriers until the trading rules are changed.
From the Warmwell website (referring to the extraordinary claim by DEFRA's
Ray Anderson that negative test results did not mean that no FMD was
Oct 14 ~ Dr Paul Kitching, world expert in the field for FMD, has sent us
the following comments after reading Ray Anderson's words below (Oct 13)
"Blood samples received at Pirbright are tested for virus and antibody; if
both are negative it would not be possible for that animal to have or have
had FMD assuming they sent samples from the animals that they suspected of
disease." Dr Kitching adds, " PS: of the 30% of the farms whose slaughter
was blocked and then went down with disease (King), how many were confirmed
in the laboratory?
PPS: when he said his experts disagreed, I hope he did not include the
modellers as experts on fmd, - although he must have included these, as all
who had any experience of the disease were broadly in agreement."
We are very grateful for this clarification. We are also interested to note
that Dr Kitching feels that all real experts in the disease, as opposed to
mathematical modellers, are in broad agreement. Prof King has often wrongly
asserted that they do not agree.
Also from Warmwell:
Transcript of "On your farm" with Lady Lowther
www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml">On Your Farm Radio 4 Sunday
Extract AH - Before all this happened, were you anti-government?
LL - No, not really. Not really, like everybody else I trusted them.
I trusted them like the farmers trusted the ministry,
like the farmers trusted the NFU.
You have to trust them to make a living but when.. the way they handled this
I wouldn't trust any of them any more.
AH = Anna Hill, reporter LL = Liz Lady Lowther
AH - Here we are on your farm and your husbands farm, of course, but we're
not at a stately home here. What have you got here?
LL -15 dogs, 7 horses, 1 duck, 93 Swaledale sheep, I think its 93-94.
AH -Its a lovely old stone courtyard with a farmhouse, a substantial
farmhouse but its not a stately home. So where are we? We're on the Lowther
estate are we?
LL - This is my husband's estate. We've got about 14 farms, tenanted.
They've all been affected by foot & mouth, one way or another but everything
round about us has gone. We've got three farmers left with animals. We've
still got the sheep, the last of them left.
AH - You have actually been right in the middle haven't you. There's the
Penrith Spur right in the middle of the disease. Your roll in the beginning
was really er you were the hub of a contact for everyone.
LL - It was rather like being a Samaritan , I think, you know just reaching
out to people saying "Look you're not on your own" that was the message.
Don't be on your own. If you've got problems give me a call.
AH - And what were they saying to you, what sort of call were you getting?
LL - Tearful ones. It was sad.because there were a lot of people, who you
know, their animals had been taken, their sheep had been taken, there'd been
horrific killings going on. Nobody knew what it was like for them. Their
farms were invaded by strangers that just killed everything, often in front
of them. It was just sad, a difficult thing to put anyone through. You'd
have to just be there, listen to them. I wrote to people, I got lots of
letters. There was one lady I wrote to. She'd written a letter in saying
she'd seen what had happened on the farms around her. Her husband was away
working, she was down the Carlisle way, and she'd got to the stage where she
"... might as well kill all the animals now and then myself, that's it,
there' no future".
So I wrote to her and said "Come on, don't let them get you down. This is
what they want, so don't let them win. There your animals, your farm, you do
it, you buckle on in there and beat it. You got to win." and that same lady
wrote back and she said "Thanks, that's what I needed, I just needed that.
What can I do to help you?" so from then on we started a petition for a
AH - Its interesting though isn't it, I mean, you're obviously quite upset
about this. did you feel you had to be strong for other people.
LL - For eight weeks I cried, I cried buckets for eight weeks, I couldn't
sleep. All I could see were these horrific pictures on the TV of slaughter
and death. Everywhere we went there were dead animals. They were lying in
fields for weeks, they were in peoples buildings, stinking villages out. You
know, just to see the pain it caused everybody. It caused the farmers ....
What the public don't reallise is when all their animals got killed, that
was their whole lives wiped out, years of breeding. When a farmer milks his
cows every day, there not just a number, he gets to know the cows and when
they're dead he's got to disinfect them every day for three weeks and walk
over them when they're the size of elephants.
AH - You see a lot of people know you as someone who's very outspoken,
someone who criticised the government a lot about its handling of the
disease but we'll talk about that in a minute, but that anger must come from
LL - I love animals, I always have done. I can't bear to see animals
suffering but to stand there and do absolutely nothing to stop it. Its the
most frustrating thing. You cannot stop them, whats happening. You can't
stop them in the middle of slaughter even if they're not doing it properly,
you can't stop these people. You can screen and shout at them and tell them
"That's not the way to do it!" but they continue.
AH - Where did you strength come from then, to not give up?
LL - I just don't like to see anyone getting bullied. I don't like to see
anyone being kicked when they're down. I like to see people stand up for
themselves. These farmers and people in this area, all farmers I think,
they're used to being self sufficient, getting on with their lives, private
people, they don't bother anybody and then all of a sudden, a DEFRA team can
have as many as 50 people on a team, pushing you around, telling you what
you have to do. There on your property.
AH - Do you think that was part of the shock. you've been living the life
like many of the farmer around here, quite isolated lives really, your own
local community, strength within the community, you know everyone, you know
how things work, how things are done a certain way here? Something happens
and people come in from outside and tell you what to do.
LL - Yes, you can't even have your neighbors there to help you, you can't
have any friends, there's no one can come on your farm. you're all terrified
of seeing each other, meeting each other, terrified of getting the disease
or spreading the disease. You just feel is if your whole life 's under
threat and this has happened to everybody I've come across, you know, that
had, that's been taken out, where their animals have been taken. It hasn't
happened to me personally apart from we did have to guard the sheep when the
contiguous culls were going on. We sit in the field to make sure no one from
DEFRA got on the land. I stopped my car many a time seeing a farmer hanging
over a gate. You know, I didn't know who he is but I just stopped and got
out to say "Are you all right? Is this your land? Are these you animals?"
and this is before his animals are taken, I shook his hands and said if you
need to call somebody, we're there. And, you know, its only a matter of
weeks after, their animals got taken anyway or killed in the field.
AH - Before all this happened, were you anti-government?
LL - No, not really. Not really, like everybody else I trusted them. I
trusted them like the farmers trusted the ministry, the farmers trusted the
NFU. You have to trust them to make a living but when, they way they handled
this I wouldn't trust any of them any more.
AH - Was there evidence that they handled it badly?
LL - Just look around you, there's nothing left, that's the evidence.
AH - Wasn't that the disease?
LL - No, no. 2% of these animals had foot and mouth. The rest were just
taken, they were healthy they were on a contiguous cull.
AH - Do you think the government could have got away with killing just those
that had the disease, leaving the others?
LL - If the government had followed the expert advice of people like Fred
Brown who works in America, he's worked in all sorts of places.
AH - Are you pro vaccination?
LL - Yea but Fred Brown knows about the virus, he knows about the disease
and this is a virus that's taken these animals. If they'd listened to the
experts and if they'd followed advice from the '67 outbreak, all of the
guidelines, we wouldn't have lost as many animals.
AH - You still would have lost a lot though wouldn't you?
LL - Yes we would have lost a lot but we wouldn't have lost as many.
AH - We're just going to walk out into the blustery wind here. The field,
you were over wintering sheep here weren't you and you have horses here as
LL - Yes, there they are.
AH - Oh yes.
LL - These are Swaledales that have come down, just going in.
AH - Yea. I have to say we're sprayed with disinfectant because the threat
hasn't really gone away has it?
LL - oh no, everybody has to continue with this for a long time. You know
the disinfectant baths out there are going to be there for quite a while.
The children are still traumatised by the killing. They're out there playing
in the evening, they see all the cattle, the sheep and the lambs and the
next morning they get up, they go to school and on the school bus they see
all these piles of dead animals, not even covered up and children are
supposed to got to school and then learn and how can they possibly
concentrate when they're all sitting there in floods of tears and then they
come home and the animals are still laying dead. "Mummy, why are those
animals dead and that field, why, who did it?" And then a week or so would
go by and they'd eventually get picked up after they'd had to suffer the
smell of them rotting. And then they've got to put up with the fires. They
see the fires and the smoke and animals legs sticking up in the air. And you
don't get children drawing nice pictures at school, you get them drawing
bonfires with legs sticking out like children would do pictures from a war
zone and those kids are still traumatized. They're absolutely amazed when
they come here and see there are still sheep alive. There are two sheep, two
Herdwicks down at .. two little black Herdwicks in a field with a pony and
the only reason they're alive is because they're pets and this woman has
managed to keep them alive, she's not had a lot of people visiting them,
they've been on surveillance and they're fine, they can survive but there's
not much left apart from them.
AH - Is there a grieving process?
LL - Oh yes. They're definitely going through a grieving process yes.
AH - Where are they at in that process?
LL - Well I'd think there'd be few like me that when they have to talk about
it they can't help but cry ..
AH - Yes you have had tears running down your face while you've been
talking, it might not sound like it.
LL - Yes well I've done a few interviews but it brings it back every time.
you can't .. it's something you won't ever forget.
AH - Your angry as well, you're angry and upset.
LL - Yes I'm angry at they way people have been treated more than anything
and the fact that they've got away with it, treating them this way and
they've just left us in the lurch basically so I think a public enquiry
would be the answer into the handling of the whole foot & mouth epidemic but
the type of enquiry that this government has got planned won't bring out the
truth. Its a crime when they come and kill your healthy animals and you
don't want to. Its a crime when they tell you "We're going to take your
animals out" when they know there's nothing wrong with them. That's a crime
... when there's alternatives.
AH - Is a public enquiry a trial then?
LL - It would be a trial.
AH - You say that with hatred.
LL - I do, I hate this damned government, I hate what they've done to the
people. There was no reason to act the way they did. Absolutely no need at
all. They could have handled this much better.
AH - They might say they had no choice, they had to act quickly
LL -No, no they ??? to get away with it. Put it that way. DEFRA and the
government have been the enemy to all of this.
AH - Does everyone feel the same as you do? Do you think, really?
LL -You'll get the odd field (?) farmer that wouldn't dare say boo to a
goose. You'll get a few people who still live in fear if them. I mean we've
lived in fear of them thinking "Oh we mustn't upset them because if we upset
them and get noticed they'll come and kill our sheep. They've done it to
other people because the minute you raise your head, they'll watch you and
then they'll take you out! So everyone's been frightened of them, me
AH - After the fear comes the retribution. Is that what you want from a
LL - You get to the point when you don't care any more. I did. You know we
got so angry with it, so upset and hurt about, by the way people were
treated. People, they were as cruel to the people as they were to the
animals. They didn't care about how many people they hurt or upset. It was
the devastation that was caused by the sheer mishandling of the whole
situation. It didn't have to be like this and they've broken peoples lives,
they've broken peoples hearts. And they're a lot of people still ill.
There's a lot of people run down. I've lost a stone in weight since February
and I'm not dieting just the stress. Sheila's lost weight, like I said in
the beginning I cried for eight weeks when this first started, I couldn't
believe what was happening, couldn't believe how they could just get away
with it, how they could be so cruel to people. And then you get past that
stage when you stop the tears and you start getting angry and you think,
well, I'm not going to let them treat me like this, I'm not going to let
them treat anybody else like that.
AH - In a grieving process though, at the end there has to be forgiveness.
Is there ever going to be forgiveness?
LL - No, I'll never forgive them. Ever. I'll never forgive them for the way
they've treated people. I mean if they take those sheep, they're not my
sheep, but if I saw those white suits in that field, as far as I'm concerned
they would have contaminated all this land, they'd poisoned it, I'd want to
go, I just wouldn't want anything to do with this place again.
AH - Is that how many people feel about their farms now?
LL -Yea, I don't know really everything been really ... they've taken the
farm down the road, everything that got killed down there, Ann won't be able
to look in the cattle sheds, neither will Peter, they'll look out of the
window and there's nothing there. When Chris got taken out, he had all his
lambs and sheep at the back window, he could see them from the window and
for months now there's been nothing. He actually asked me "Can I have some
horses?" I said "Yes of course you can." "I just want something alive,
something that's living and breathing, something to look at, something that
eats, something to stroke." and that's how it is, there's lots of horses
strung around here. Lots and lots of people have got horse that would never
have taken them before. They wouldn't have bothered with them because
they're grass munchers, they're useless, just to have something, to have
AH - You yourself have been, you've been galvanising people into action, you
planned a march for October 20th but that's been put off now because of
security reasons in the capital so are you going to have a march later on?
LL - We'll have a march, its been postponed, we've put it off to do the
sensible thing for what's happening ther's loads of people want to go on
AH - Its a funny thing because some people might say why do they want go on
a march now, I mean its all over isn't it?
LL - No it certainly isn't over it'll be carrying on this winter and even if
there's no more foot & mouth outbreaks, if its finally gone away which I
don't think it has. Even if that's stopped, people still want to tell the
world how badly they've been affected by foot & mouth.
AH - You are organising this partly because you're Lady Lowther now and
you've become something of a figurehead for people round here. But your
someone, you married your husband only a couple of years ago, you said you
were brought up in Penrith. Have you always been a sort of leader?
LL - No no no well I was born in Penrith, brought up in the countryside,
have always had animals, hens and chickens and pet lambs and everything,
like farm life. I feel I am part of the farming community.
AH - But do you use your title to galvanise other people into action?
LL - Its useful, sometimes its useful. I've never been one for pushing my
way forward. I've hardly ever used the title, to be honest, its not really
necessary. People know me, they know me for me. It works occasionally
AH - How did you feel when you became Lady Lowther though from just being an
ordinary divorced mother of two.
LL - Three.
AH - Sorry three
LL - It doesn't make any difference. It didn't make any difference at all to
me because I've been with Hugh for 10 years so it didn't make any difference
at all, not to me personally, I haven't changed.
AH - What about how other people saw you?
LL - I'm still Liz, I'm still Liz, everybody knows me as Liz. I don't put
any airs and graces on as you can see.
AH - You're certainly down to earth, that's for sure.
LL - Well yes, what's the point in changing now, I'm past change. There's no
point, people take me for me. If the title means I can help the tenants then
I'll use it as will Hugh. I mean its just a name after all.
AH - But its an important name after all because when you sign the end of a
letter where you want to get something done, you know that when you use that
signature its going to have more clout than if you just signed it Liz.
LL - Certainly, yes of course it does. I feel now since the foot & mouth
petition went out, I started doing it months ago, that I've made thousands
of new friends because all these people that telephone me and say "Can you
please send me a petition form? Who am I speaking to?" I just say "This is
Liz." "Oh wow its you! Brilliant you actually rang me back." Its just nice
all the new people I've met and the communication we've got. And all these
people are working together, they're all working together, they'r trying to
help each area and the Heart of Britain Group, I'm the patron of the Heart
of Britain, aims to bring the counties together because such a lost of
counties have been separated and they'r on their own. One county doesn't
know what the other counties are doing. Like Yorkshire. We had a telephone
call from a fellow in Horse?and he rang me up and he said "What happening
over your end?" I said "Oh well, its pretty drastic. How are you coping."
"Oh Its hell" so we got to talking about whats been happening in their area.
" Can you come over?" I said "Yes, we've got to be careful," I'm not going
to give any farmers a kiss you know because of the virus (laughs) er
spreading on your breath. I said "Yes we'll come over". So we went over to
see them to have a meeting to see how they're coping in their area. Well
we'll all help each other and that's the way it's going.
AH - How long is it going to take for these wounds to die away?
LL - I would think along time It'll be quite a while. It'll be nice in
spring if we can wee spring lambs out there. The lady who owns the sheep,
Rachel, she bought a tup and as soon as he's signed of, you know, a clean
bill of health, he can come on the fields and we can have spring lambs and
that's a good start. We'll see the spring lambs survive and then we'll start
the season. Eric 's farm over there with sheep in, and we'll see Corruthers
with some cattle, and maybe Chris Woods with his cattle and he'll have some
sheep. That's a start.
AH - So when the animals come back?
LL - When the animals come back then we start again.
From The Independent:
Businesses sue over cost of farm virus
15 October 2001
Hundreds of businesses are suing the Government for billions of pounds in
compensation for revenue lost in the foot-and- mouth crisis. The owners of
rural businesses ranging from pubs to coffee shops and hotels to horse
trekking have launched the first joint action to recoup losses caused by the
disease's catastrophic effect on tourism and the rural economy. The
Government has ruled out paying compensation for "consequential losses" as
an indirect result of the disease. It has compensated farmers directly
affected by the cull, in effect buying animals to destroy them, but there
has only been indirect relief for non-agricultural businesses. Powys Rural
Business Campaign, which alone represents more than 300 businesses, has
instructed London solicitors Class Law to act on its behalf. The firm
already represents shareholders in a group action, claiming that the true
state of the rail network was hidden from them on privatisation. The move
comes as hopes are mounting that the disease may be beaten, with no new
cases reported for a fortnight. The legal action would be based on claims
that councils closed roads they were not entitled to shut and discriminated
against businesses. The group also claims the Government has deprived
businesses of their right to property.
Another joke from Tom (we love it!):
A man was arrested for runing down Downing Street shouting, "Tony Blair is
an Idiot". He was sentenced to 3 months for making a disturbance and 10
years for revealing a state secret.
from Alan & Rosie