Back to warmwell.com website
What follows - all contemporary comment or letters to official inquiries or elsewhere - reveals distressing instances of incompetence and downright cruelty during the UK government's attempts to eradicate FMD in 2001 and 2007.
To the disbelief of many who lived through the trauma, Parliament passed a resolution in April 2004 congratulating itself on what had happened:
"this House commends the action taken by this Government ..... on eradicating a major outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in seven months ....."
The Knowstone TranscriptsSome of the heartfelt speeches made to the EU Temporary Committee into the UK FMD Outbreak when they visited Knowstone in Devon.
NOTES taken at the ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH INQUIRY Public Meeting Dumfries 11th March 2002
Retrieved File reveals arrogance and muddle
The vet Helen O'Hare gives her eye-witness account of the cruel methods used during slaughter.
Contemporary comment and newspaper reports from 2001- below
FMD 2001 - some first hand accounts, opinions and submissions to inquiries
"These animals were not rounded up and were shot in the fields. They were so distressed they were trying to climb over fences to get away. Five of them tried to hide at the bottom of the field but were still shot.
"I have no problem with animals infected with foot and mouth being killed, but this was completely inhumane...."
K.M. TYRRELL B.A., B.Sc (Vet), M.R.C.V.S
Foot and Mouth outof Control; what a Shambles.
Those of us who were involved in the 1967/68 out break can only watch the dreadful mistakes appearing on our TV's every day with a mixture of absolute horror and dismay. The Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Foot and Mouth Disease 1968 (Part one Reference Cmnd 3999 and Part two Reference Cmnd 4225 ) laid down many conclusions and recommendations and if these had been followed from day one of the outbreak then the disease would not have spread so widely, so many of our valuable flocks and herds would still be alive and the rural economy would not be destroyed.
After the very first diagnosis or strong suspicion that FMD was in the country and with a link between Essex and Northumberland the Controlled area restriction should have been imposed immediately. After the Devon involvement became obvious and slaughterhouses were possible infected to have allowed suspect stock to remain alive whilst Pirbright results were awaited was nothing short of culpable negligence during which time, of course the virus escaped into the neighbourhood with further spread. After all they had gone there to be slaughtered!
On farms; to allow confirmation to depend on Pirbright, then to allow animals with clinical symptoms to stay alive pending valuation instead of farmer /veterinary officer valuation with immediate slaughter by the VO using a MAFF issued Webley Scot .32 as in 67/68, to postpone slaughter, for example, till a portable toilet was delivered to the farm and to incinerate the carcases in every case with the consequent delays of destruction of the carcases makes any veterinarian of my generation see red.
Then to cap it all, to rule out completely on-farm burial was the ultimate mistake. Speed is the essence in diagnosis, valuation and burial and preliminary disinfection to control FMD
Why has MAFF gone down this particular road? Firstly there was a "culling" exercise on the State Veterinary Service engineered by the CVO at the dictates of his political masters so the SVS became short handed for emergencies. Training on FMD became minimal and preparations were negligible so inexperience came to the fore. Bureaucracy has been allowed to take over and other government agencies to get involved e.g. Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Agency. Then we have an election in the near future so Downing Street gets involved and then Brussels. The Report said that burial (on farm) was the preferred method.
In 67/68we buried on the farms except close to a water abstraction point or a river or if there was an unsuitable ground structure and if we had to burn no delay was tolerated. At none of the burial sites, which were agreed with the local river and water authority, whose representative was in the office for an instantaneous decision was there ever a subsequent pollution problem. The head of the Environment agency can take the blame for a lot of the spread of FMD.
To relieve the senior vets of the day to day running of the FMD centres Civil Services Managers have been drafted in thus weakening veterinary control yet the Report said categorically that the regional veterinary officer should be in charge. (The Devon areas is under non-veterinary management and see the result!)
The insidious hand of Brussels is also behind this draconian cull of 3kms; are we veterinary surgeons or are we filled with this MAFF blood lust? We should stop it and deal at once with infection on farms and dangerous contacts if indeed they are dangerous and not just contiguous.
How has the veterinary profession performed during this outbreak? Well of course, as is always the case the frontline troops have behaved magnificently but what about the leaders? At the beginning when Brown and Gill both in a state of near hysteria pleaded for cessation of movement of people outside of towns where were the professional heads to stop the paranoia that ensued and continues to this day? Do any vets think that ladies playing bridge in the village hall spread FMD; one would think so as the BVA didn't say a word about such nonsense or if they did it was muted.
Misinformation by MAFF has not been speedily put right e.g. where has this idea of 6 months without stock come from as all restrictions should be removed 28 days after completion of cleansing and disinfection with the proviso that with a cluster of outbreaks the period is related to the latest. Why are farmers under such ideas e.g. that their hay can be made but will then have to be destroyed? Isn't virology taught at vet school any more? Are our recent graduates suffering from the FMD paranoia too?
Welfare is another facet where the profession has not appeared in a good light. We have all seen these lambs kept under deplorable conditions yet we seem to have accepted it. Should not the RCVS take disciplinary cases against those who countenanced either actively or passively such appalling cruelty?
To move animals a short distance across a road to dry and or new pasture is not spreading disease taken under reasonable precautions and this was always speedily done in previous outbreaks. Why has this practice stopped; is it application of rules to the letter of the law by lay personnel who have no appreciation of welfare or even how the disease is spread?
History repeats itself but MAFF does not apparently think so. They waffle about "farms are bigger, high water tables etc, etc but if they would only follow the tried and trusted methods of FMD control honed to a fine art by past years of experience then this disease might yet be brought under control without any more damage to our hard hit agricultural industry.
Qualified 1951 - Joined MAFF July 1953 retired 1987 - First involved in FMD control Torrington Devon August 1953 - Subsequently: -Askerswell Dorset Blandford Dorset Sturminster Newton Marlborough Wilts Yeovil Somerset Liskeard Cornwall Downham Market Norfolk Rothbury Northumberland Nantwich Cheshire And Cheshire 1967/68 And as a Senior Veterinary Officer stationed in Cheshire diagnosed the first case in that county on the 30 October 1967 and also diagnosed the last case in 1968. Also seconded as consultant to Food and Agriculture Organisation, of United Nations in Turkey on FMD surveillance. Seconded to Pirbright Research Institute on vaccination trials in Namibia. Examined Charolais cattle for FMD in France prior to the first importation of this breed into UK Examined Simmenthal cattle for FMD in Switzerland prior to first importation into UK----------------------------------------------------------------
Royal Society Enquiry @ Royal Society
6 Carlton House Terrace
London SWlY 5AG
October llth 2001
1 Hilltop Cottage
My pedigree show, quality Jacob sheep and Shetland sheep were slaughtered on suspicion, on April 12"' 2001. These sheep were for wool and were never going to the food chain. I would make the following comments: -
These sheep were slaughtered on suspicion, on the orders of MAFF, Page Street. The inexperienced vet on the ground could not give a clinical diagnosis and was overruled. These sheep had been housed in a marquee for two months and the nearest other animals to these, were over 400 meters away and the nearest infected premises was over 4 miles away. We asked for blood tests to be taken and checked, before any killing took place, this was totally rejected, but blood tests were taken, as the sheep were killed. I was personally informed over the telephone, by the vet, that the slaughter would take place and that if did not agree, I would be removed by the police and the army. The outcome of this was 10 days later, when we were told that the blood tests were negative. My reaction to this is unprintable.
The fact of the matter remains that in 1967, there was no such thing as SOS. Once in practice in 2001, the discovery of any FMD, like lesions or any other sick animal, by a TVI, meant pressure form Page Street to slaughter immediately. The TVI in our case was pressurised by Page Street. What happened to us was a disgrace.
The SOS policies were in every respect, against the professional code of the RCVS and that it was enforced by members of the RCVS at the behest of those who paid their salaries misses very, very serious, ethical issues for that profession. In the case of SOS, the policy decided upon by ministers, required veterinarians (sic) to instruct fellow professionals to disregard their professional training and ethical obligation and make guesses for which they would be held responsible. It has become blatantly obvious that under such pressure, many veterimrians (sic) opted to slaughter healthy animals, subsequently shown to be serologically negative.
It is not enough for the government to claim that it has eradicated the disease that they themselves as MAFF/DEFRA have probably spread more than anyone else has. The cost has been astronomical, the waste enormous and the suffering of both animals and humans has been beyond belief. Much of it has been totally unnecessary. We would hope that you who have been charged with leading this enquiry, will not shrink from the challenge to get to the full truth.
This has been one of the most disgraceful episodes in Britain's history, with so many lies and deceit from all those involved. The science unfortunately has been totally ignored and the leading foot and mouth disease experts have not been listened to.
Iam currently working with the FMD team in the Yorkshire Dales. Although everybody is working incredibly hard and long hours, the expression most frequently used by TVI's are, "joke," "shambles," and "headless chickens". We are sharing totally inadequate office space with both the police and the army. Communications with head office is hopeless, there are no washing or disinfection facilities, waste disposal is only just being developed, and we cannot even park near the building. Hopefully, this will all be improved before the outbreak is over.
Worse than this, however, is the incompetence I have witnessed among a few of my colleagues at slaughter sites. Inability to control a hypodermic or vacutainer needle leads to a rough, jabbing technique, so sheep have not been blood sampled cleanly and efficiently, and I will leave it to the reader's imagination to guess how some lambs have been killed. Intracardiac injection is not much taught at university, so we all have to learn on the job, but when help is offered or needed, it's no shame to accept or ask for guidance. Fluency in a common language is helpful, of course. It is a sad reflection on the TVI appointments procedure when animal handling staff have named one of us "Dr. Death".
A------ S---- MRCVS
The following notes are based on my personal experience of the epidemic. I have farmed in the Scottish Borders for the last 33 years, and before that I had experience of livestock farming in Argentina, Kenya and South Africa. I own and manage a flock of 2500 Cheviot ewes and a herd of 250 suckler cows on three separate holdings. In April this yearI lost one farm due to mistaken clinical diagnosis and, therefore, have first hand experience of the suffering that this epidemic has caused.
Culling of infected animals is a necessary disease control measure. It is only effective if carried out quickly and efficiently. In 2001, due to the complete lack of planning and the gross incompetence of the authorities, there were long delays between diagnosis and slaughter and between slaughter and disposal of carcases. These delays meant that the disease spread rapidly. Culling of infected animals was not, therefore, effective in 200 1.
Culling of healthy animals is a completely different matter.
The cull of healthy animals within 3km of an I.P. was introduced in mid-March when the epidemic was out of control. It was based on models developed by bio-mathematicians at Imperial College, London. None of them was a vet, or had any previous experience of FMD. It later emerged that the data on which these models were based was seriously flawed (see, e.g. Donaldson et al, Veterinary Record, 12 May 2001).
It also emerged, in May, that MAFF had no legal authority to carry out this cull. On November 6th Elliot Morley told the Select Committee hearing that ". . . At the present time, we do not have powers for a fire-break cull".
The 3km cull of healthy animals was an experiment which had never been tried anywhere in the world. It was illogical, illegal, impractical (the infrastructure was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task) and completely ineffective.
On5th November, Elliot Morley told Timothy Yeo that a total of 7549 premises were culled as either "Dangerous Contacts" or "Slaughter on Suspicion", and had laboratory tests conducted. Only 5 yielded positive results and were recorded as 1.P.s That is 0.07%. Yet the Government and its advisors continue to try to justify this discredited policy.My own small farm was culled on April 4th as a result of a mistaken clinical diagnosis - which would later, after MAFF changed the terminology, have been called slaughter on suspicion. The vet wanted a second opinion but MAFF refused to allow it. Because of the so-called positive clinical diagnosis the farm was classified as an I.P. despite the fact that both the ELISA and antibody tests proved negative. It is still classified as an I.P., which means that incredibly expensive, and of course completely unnecessary, cleansing was undertaken.
The environmental impacts of the3km cull were enormous and have yet to be The social cost and human misery caused by the policy is appalling.
Holland, which adopted this policy, slaughtered its vaccinated animals at once in order to regain its FMD-free trading status as soon as possible. Because of the vast numbers of stock involved in this country, we should have vaccinated "to live", i.e. without subsequent slaughter, in March. We might have taken longer to regain ourFMD trading status, but the saving in livestock and in the cost to the public purse, the minimal disruption to tourism and other rural business, would have more than made up for the loss of exports.
My first job, after leaving Oxford with a degree in Agriculture and Economics, was with a large British ranching company (Forestal, Land, Timber and Railways Ltd) in Argentina. In the 1960s we regularly rounded up thousands of head of cattle and vaccinated them against FMD. Vaccination, in Argentina nearly 40 years ago, was an effective way of controlling the disease. Since early March 2001 I have followed the debate on vaccination with an increasing senseof frustration and bewilderment. The case for vaccination as made by, among others, Professor Fred Brown, Dr Paul Sutmoller, Dr Simon Barteling and Dr Keith Sumption, is convincing. Some of the statements made recently by Professor King in order to justify the Government's failure to vaccinate are incredible. I am convinced that had "vaccination to live" been introduced in March this epidemic would have been controlled much more quickly than it in fact was. The scientific case for vaccination is clear. The economic and political consequences are more complex, but could have been managed by the politicians. Why was the crucially important debate on policy conducted in an atmosphere of such secrecy, mutual antagonism, and confusion?
The information put out by MAFF/DEFRA and the NFUs was, and continues to be, misleading to the point of dishonesty.
Why were we told, day after day, that the epidemic was "under control" when it was not? This lie was an insult.
Why was the experience of other countries ignored?
We were told that farmers opposed vaccination. But when, on April 11th, David Maclean, MP for Penrith and the Border, conducted a poll by fax of his farming constituents, 80% of the farmers and 95% of the vets wanted "vaccination to live" as soon as possible. Yet, a few days later, Nick Brown told the House of Commons that he had wanted to vaccinate cattle in Cumbria and Devon but could not do so without the support of the farmers and others "which simply is not there". Why did Brown say that?
The atmosphere of dishonesty and the deliberate confusion has made a terrible crisis much harder to bear than it need have been. The Phillips Report into BSE said that public debate during such crises was essential, and that dissenting voices should be heard. Why is this advice still being ignored? Politicians and scientists continue to spread confusion and to blame farmers for spreading the disease that they dread so much. The new Animal Health Bill, for instance, can only be described as vindictive - and shows that the politicians have learnt nothing. For those of us who have been personally involved in these terrible months, on the other hand, the experience has been an education. Farmers are beginning to restock and to plan for the future. The saddest long term result of the scandalous mismanagement of the 2001 FMD epidemic may well be the breakdown of mutual trust and respect between the authorities and the whole rural community.
13th November 2001
1AG ll 2001 13:51 FAX 01452 316.185 SVS GLOS
ROYAL SOCIETY INQUIRY INTO INFECTIOUS DISE ASES
I would like to submit the following evidence to this inquiry :DIAGNOSIS :
I believe that the diagnosis of FMD based on clinical signs alone, especially in sheep, is unreliable. In the Gloucester Office where I work as a TVI, of the 76 confirmed in Glos, only 15 had positive sample results, 35 had negative sample results and 26 were confirmed on clinical signs - no samples taken . 68 per cent of the negative results were where diagnosis was based on clinical signs observed in sheep.
It is likely that some of these were positive, but the wrong samples were taken. Most of the vets making these diagnoses had never seen FMD before. I believe that money should be spent researching a RAPID and RELIABLE on farm test to assist in the accurate clinical diagnosis of FMD as false positive results, especially where contiguous culling is taking place, have such terrible and costly consequences for animals, farmers and tax-payers.
If such a rapid on-farm test is not available, I think culling, especially DC and contiguous culling should be delayed until laboratory results have confirmed the clinical diagnosis (especially in sheep) - if the time delay is acceptable - i.e. 24 hours It is essential that clear instructions are given to vets in the field on the importance of taking correct samples in the right transport media, and that they have the correct type of sample containers in which to collect them.
I have worked as a TVI for MAFF since September 1991, but I have never received ANY training in FMD and never been involved in any contingency planning exercises. This would have been very useful.
I think TW's employed by DEFRA should be included in any future FMD training programmes.
Kate Wood BVet Med MRCVS TVI
Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Mathematics Tower, The Universityof Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL
Telephone: 0161 275 5850 Fax: 0161 275 5699THE UNIVERSITY of MANCHESTER
15 October 2001Dr Geoffrey Findlay
6 Carlton House Terrace,
Dear Dr Findlay,
I enclose a paper copy of the evidence I sent you by e-mail on Friday.
I would also like to make a couple of additional points:1) Both the Gowers Departmental Enquiry (1954) and the Northumberland Enquiry have recommended vaccination as a means of FMD control, yet this has never been implemented. You must ensure that any recommendations you make are not accepted in principle yet ignored in practice, as has been the case for the last 50 years.2) Opposition to slaughter is as old as the slaughter policy itself. Critics have generally adopted one of two stances:
a) they have opposed slaughter outright, on principle
b) they have accepted the validity of the slaughter policy in theory, but demanded an alternative means of disease control when in practice, slaughter appears to be failing. (The irony is that vaccines have always been opposed in theory, due to the perceived risks involved, yet those with practical experience of their use have generally supported them)
In past and present outbreaks, MAFF has tended to treat all critics of slaughter as outright opponents of the policy. This enables MAFF to portray them as ignorant individuals, incapable of understanding the necessity for slaughter, in contrast to the enlightened public who fully accept the slaughter policy. This is yet another device by which MAFF has attempted to rally public support for slaughter. In fact, it has generally been the minority stance. The majority, who accept slaughter in theory but question its practical implementation feel that MAFF has failed to understand their position or address their criticisms, and this has led to feelings of grievance.I am happy to provide references for the above comments, or answer any other questions you may have upon the history of the disease. This project comprises my PhD thesis, which will be submitted in summer 2002, and so has yet to be published.
Abigail Woods MA MSc VetMB MRCVS,
THE ROYAL SOCIETY INQUIRY
K.M. TYRRELL B.A., B.Sc (Vet), M.R.C.V.S
Iwill confine my response to Foot and Mouth disease only but there is a spin off to the other diseases as mentioned in your call for detailed evidence.
Inthese days of rapid transfer of people and goods it is essential to have first class intelligence of the spread of FMD throughout the world and to have plans in existence which will be able to be put into operation immediately the disease appears. It is a forlorn hope to depend on increased surveillance at ports, as we are unable to keep out illegal immigrants how can we keep out illegal meat imports? The main measure that we should take is to minimise entry by a complete ban on imports from countries where FMD is endemic irrespective of province or stipulated area freedom.
Existing clinical diagnosis has been a disgrace as the level of expertise shown in the present outbreak has been appalling in so many cases. Training and actual hands on of the disease is the only way to rectify this deficiency. The Animal Virus Research Institute must be motivated to rapidly extend its research into ''on farm diagnosis" as propounded by Prof Fred Brown. This is obviously the way forward and scientific jealousy must not be allowed to stand in the way of developing and validating these methods.
Prophylactic vaccination should be a means of protecting certain susceptible groups should FMD be seen to be an increased risk at any time. Changes in stocking densities are of minimal importance as the disease can establish itself even in small herds or flocks.
Far too much importance can be placed on modelling as the disease can be spreading fast before the modellers can catch up. Similarly as this is a biological exercise each outbreak will, by its very nature, have individual variations, which cannot be thus treated in the same way.
The slaughter policy is certainly not compatible today and the sooner this country adopts a vaccination policy the better.
The culling of swathes of the countryside at the behest of mathematicians is a policy of despair with the widespread knock on effect spilling over into all sorts of industry. For example consider that British Airways reported a severe drop in its profits due to FMD, as did P&O Ferries. It is recognised that during the first week of the arrival of FMD once more into the UK that the slaughter policy would be adopted until ring vaccination had taken effect say commencing day 7 and effective immunity building up by day10 with concrete immunity by day 14. By adopting the policy outlined above then the disposal of animals becomes a manageable operation and on farm burial should be the method of choice as recommended by the Northumberland committee.
In1963 I was involved in vaccination trials on behalf of Pirbright in S.W.Afnca (Namibia). 2 types of vaccines were under test against a most invasive type of FMD. These were a live vaccine and a killed vaccine. The live vaccine was found to have some limitations whereas the killed or dead vaccine gave excellent protection. This was against constant waves of virus coming out of the wildlife that were badly affected such as Kudu, Hartebeest etc. Later that year I was in Turkey dealing with an epidemic that had spread from Africa through the Middle East and through Turkey right to the Bulgarian and Greek border. At that time Europe was vaccinated against types A, 0 &C but had no protection against type SAT1 that was the type involved. The European Committee for the Control of FMD immediately organised a vaccination belt or firewall with dead vaccine on the 3 countries borders and the disease was stopped in its tracks.
If that was the case then why can we not adopt a vaccination policy today with the greatly enhanced vaccines, which are now available? As we buy, at present, meat from vaccinated animals from foreign countries then there surely can be no reason to not use vaccines ourselves?
The so-called carrier state and considered therefore to be a source of infection in the vaccinated animal is a figment of the imagination of the slaughter policy proponents and has never found to be of a risk .
Education and Training
Indepth training for the "average veterinarian" in practice should not be looked on in the same light as for members of the State Veterinary Service. I have covered the training for Defra veterinary staff in a previous paragraph but the training of farmers should only be carried out in the simplest of forms but some depth might be offered to, for example, the leaders of the National Farmers Union which might help in modifying the paranoia which emanated from them during the present epidemic.
K.M.TYRRELL B.A., B.Sc (Vet), M.R.C.V.S
OBSERVATIONS ON THE FOOT & MOUTH
DISEASE OUTBREAK 2001
ANGUS M TAYLOR MRCVS
Past President British Veterinary Association and The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
I qualified in 1941 and joined MAFF in 1943. I worked for MAFF in various parts of the country, including Headquarters for nearly 40 years. I was Divisional Veterinary Officer (DVO) for Cheshire from 1963-1968. I set up the first Foot & Mouth Disease Centre in Cheshire at Crewe in 1967 and worked there until May 1968. It was my seventeenth Foot & Mouth Centre since 1943. We had four centres in Cheshire, at Crewe, Chester, Northwich and Macclesfield (see Appendix l) I was a Technical Advisor to the British Veterinary Association when its committee was preparing evidence to present to the Northumberland Committee in 1968. I gave oral evidence to that Committee on behalf of the Association of State Veterinary Officers.
STAFFING IN THE STATE VETERINARY SERVICE
The Urwick Orr Management Report set up the Agricultural Development & Advisory Service (ADAS) in 1971 into which the State Veterinary Service (SVS) was amalgamated, wrongly in my opinion, by the then Permanent Secretary Sir Basil Engholm. It was a top heavy management structure that so alarmed the Treasury that when Engholm retired in 1973, they sent in their own man, Sir Alan Neill, to alter things.
In the next twenty years, over a dozen management groups, internal and external, have investigated the work of the SVS - a service recognised throughout the world during the 1970s as a model for most countries. All of these reviews gradually reduced the standing veterinary staff and laboratories of the SVS on the pretext of "increasing efficiency" which they never did, culminating in the Le Brecht Report of January 1994. No indication was given as to the names of those assisting in the preparation of this Report nor of their knowledge of the subject. I have since discovered that it consisted of Andrew Le Brecht (an Assistant Secretary) and an accountant! There was no veterinary involvement. The Report was accepted by Waldegrave, the then Minister, and then implemented by the Permanent Secretary, Richard Packer, whom I suspect was the main instigator of the adoption of the Report.
Le Brecht was sent to take charge of the Exeter Foot & Mouth Centre when an Under Secretary and is now the Director General of Food and Agriculture and a principal advisor to DEFRA Ministers.
My letter to the Daily Telegraph (unpublished for obvious reasons) of 28 February at the start of the 2001 outbreak, details the cutback in veterinary staff (see Appendix B) Many experienced staff were made redundant and they would have been useful if available to the SVS in 2001. The Chief Veterinary Officer at the time of the Le Brecht Report warned the Permanent Secretary that the staff cuts would result in it being impossible to handle an extensive outbreak of disease. The Vice President of the BVA, Bob Stevenson, described the cutbacks as a "recipe for disaster". Many letters were written by retired staff and a former CVO to the Veterinary Record warning of the dangers of the cutbacks, and, despite representations by the BVA to the Minister, all were ignored.
The widespread nature of the outbreak in February 2001 put an immediate strain on the resources of the SVS. The tracing from infected markets quickly used veterinary resources in the SVS and appeals to the veterinary profession for help were soon answered. The disease was already out of control and EU regulations concerning laboratory confirmation increased the risk of spread.
The widespread culling was a political act because of the necessity to hold a General Election. It was based on computerised graphs and reports from Professors Anderson, Ferguson, Krebs and King. The latter appeared to take control of the outbreak from the Chief Veterinary Officer. This would not have been tolerated by the experienced veterinary staff in 1967/68. It is interesting how similar the two graphs for 1967168 and 2001 appear to be; a peak at 4-5 weeks and then a long tail.
THE HEALTH FORUM LET-Sir 6 Follett F&M - 6.12.0 I
Sir Brian Follett
The Royal Society
6 Carlton House Terrace
6* December 2001Dear Sir Brian
RE: RAPID HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOOT & MOUTH
Suzi Leather has suggested that I forward details of the work carried out locally about the medium to longer-term effects of foot and mouth on our local communities. Please find enclosed a copy of the Rapid Health Impact Assessment report. I would be happy to discuss any aspects of this work in more detail if that was appropriate.
Lead Officer for the North and East Devon Health Forum
North and East Devon Health Authority
Encl.: RHlA report
Chair: Marguerite Shapland
Lead Officer: Ian Tearle, Health Policy Manager, North & East Devon Health Authority
Dean Clarke House, Southernhay East, Exeter EX1 1PQ
Tel: 01392 2075 11 Fax: 01392 270910
There has been concern that there would be adverse effects on the community caused by the outbreak. The rapid spread of Foot and Mouth Disease and the mass culling of animals to control the spread of the disease resulted in stress and anxiety in farming communities. The size of the effect on mental health has not been quantified. It is important to note that qualitative data does not break down effects, for example reference is made to suicide but it is not clear if this is actual, attempted or considered. The Farmers Advice and Support Team (FAST) have reported high levels of threatened suicide, immense stress, acute chronic depression and anxiety among those in the farming community that have used their services. Key informants in the police service and doctors in general practice expressed concerns about a potential increase in suicides in the farming community.
During the culling one farmer was reported as saying: if you take my cows I will shoot myself
A general practitioner reported that he visited a farmer trying to kill himself who had left a note saying that: he wanted to be buried with his animals!
One of the farmers interviewed said that he 'couldn'r sleep or eat and cried some days all day long:
Farm Crisis Network and a number of farmers interviewed stated that witnessing acts of animal cruelty during the animal culls had a negative impact on the mental health of the farmers. An example of this is the farmer who could not move his stock due to movement restrictions and 'ewes collapsed and gave up the will to live and there were lambs drowning in slurry and it did my head in
Children have been identified by people interviewed as at risk of mental health problems. The scale of this, however, is not clear. One family interviewed sent their children away from the farm during the culling and said that 'the children felt that they were to blame in some way and couldn't understand what was happening to them !
One of the GP's interviewed had referred two children for treatment who were stressed and depressed and a teacher said that 'each time there is a fire children imagine that livestock are being burnt:
There has been an ongoing concern about mental health in the farming community, with farmers ranking fourth among occupational groups with respect to suicide (Hughes et al). It has been felt that the added pressures of Foot and Mouth Disease could result in a marked increase in mental health problems in the farming communities. This concern has resulted in short-term financial support being provided for voluntary agencies such as Farm Crisis Network and FAST the service funded by North & East Devon NHS Partnership Trust. The services have not been evaluated but in the course of this study respondents spontaneously mentioned their support for these services.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE OUTBREAK IN CUMBRIA 2001:
Alan Richardson B.Vet.Med., Ph.D., M.R.C.V.S.
"Foot and mouth disease finds you out." Professor Harry Burrow, Royal Veterinary College, London, in a lecture to his students in 1963.
The author qualified as veterinary surgeon in 1963 and worked in veterinary practice and the Veterinary Investigation Service (MAFF) for twelve years. He was Director of the Sir William MacDonald Veterinary Laboratory, Hamilton, Victoria, Australia (1975-76) and subsequently worked in research and development for ICI Pharmaceuticals Ltd. His last professional appointment was as a Home Office Inspector under the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act. He worked in the 1967 Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD) and came out of retirement to help in the 200 1 outbreak in Cumbria.
Scope of the paper
Since the epidemic of 1967 there have been many changes in farming and the broader political and social scenes. My comments are confined to the initial response to the 2001outbreak, the veterinary protocols as first implemented and then as later modified. In particular the author wishes to compare them with the methods of 1967. The most bizarre element in the new reporting protocol was the requirement to examine the suspect FMD case last of all, perhaps hours after first arriving at the farm. The instruction was to begin examining the outlying stock and work towards the suspects. On many Cumbrian farms this must have caused delays of several hours before any diagnosis. This ludicrous procedure was first justified on the spurious grounds of gathering "epidemiological" information but later admitted to be a requirement of Brussels. Once the full horror of the situation was grasped, it was no longer insisted upon.
Clinical protocols- uncertain cases
The majority of suspect FMD cases pose few problems to a competent veterinarian. The inexperienced should be able to draw on a second opinion and to use laboratory tests. In 1967, uncertain cases were watched very carefully and within a matter of hours the outcome usually became clear. In positive cases typical lesions were seen; in negative cases they did not appear at all. Laboratory tests were available. In the 2001outbreak, many young, foreign and inexperienced veterinarians were manipulated, even bullied, by HQ staff without reference to experienced staff.
After the election, HQ refused to allow laboratory methods to be used to resolve uncertain cases and TVIs were forced to "slaughter on suspicion" (SOS) or declare the animals free of FMD by serving Form B. The leader of the oppostion, Mr William Haig, first suggested this infamous and unnecessary manoeuvre in a preelection radio interview and it was acted upon. Modern tests (ELISA) were never locally available, though a system for providing second opinions was later implemented at Carlisle.
The SOS policy saved negligible time at a cost of many thousands of animals that were not diseased. A deplorable, if not perverse, aspect of this policy was HQ's refusal to allow laboratory methods to be used to resolve difficult cases, when previously they had demanded them for obvious clinical cases. It was made far worse by taking samples after the slaughter of SOS cases, which all too often suggested that a TVI had been coerced into a wrong decision.
In 2001, almost the whole country was put under restriction, including the Orkneys from which animals could not be moved for many months, even though they never posed any risk. There were many fewer abattoirs due to massive closures, but even so, safe and reasonable movements to abattoirs were not allowed for months. In Cumbria many thousands of feeding-sheep and lambing flocks were kept out on bare ground through inclement weather until their owners went bankrupt or the sheep were removed in the cull. Even when movements were allowed, the beaurocratic delays were considerable. The procedures, laid own in detail from HQ, required several days to process the paperwork. Even in June, the interval from a farmer applying for a licence to the movement taking place was between one and two weeks.
Nothing better illustrates the confusion and paralysis resulting from the centralisation of management than an incident on March 13' when the author sought clarification over a licence request for the movement of boar semen. The responsible clerk advised him that MAFF managers had told her to watch the television at 3 pm, when the Prime Minister would deal with the matter from the steps of 10, Downing Street.
In 1967, a surveillance team built up a relationship with the farmers within a one-mile radius of the infected premises (IP) and monitored their farms very closely. Each veterinarian got to knowhis people and their livestock well. Lateral spread was detected and dealt with at once. Herds and flocks that were not affected were not killed. Dangerous contacts were indeed often culled, but only after a local assessment; nose to nose contact across fences being the common criterion.
In 2001, the 3 km. cull seems to have been the idea of epidemiological mathematical modellers who could have no idea of the logistical effort needed to kill and dispose of the carcasses, nor of the economic losses and distress resulting from their prescription. Nor was this stratagem necessary, as all previous experience had shown. When the slaughter on suspicion policy became known, the distress was greatly increased when farmers realised that their livelihoods, and often their life's work, hung upon the competence of an unknown veterinarian, examining a neighbour's stock. The anxiety was increased when he reflected that this veterinarian was possibly young, from overseas and perhaps inexperienced and unfamiliar with the range of lesions to be found in British livestock. This cull was induced by panic and ignorance and born of the failure to be prepared.
Slaughter on Suspicion(SOS)
In 1967, there was no such thing. The clinical diagnosis of FMD does not present insuperable problems to competent veterinarians and where there are doubts, second opinions should be available. With vague clinical hlstories and atypical lesions, the issue may be resolved by laboratory methods andor by simply waiting, with the farm under restriction. Indeed, the delay can be used to put slaughter and disposal teams on standby.
In practice, in 2001, once theSOS policy was adopted, the discovery of any FMD-like lesion of any aetiology might lead to the slaughter of large numbers of healthy stock. On the other hand, a TVI could be induced by HQ to regard a vaguely sick animal as posing no threat. The author was thus pressurised, indeed threatened, by HQ to decide that an uncertain case was negative, or to slaughter on suspicion. He refused to do either and insisted on waiting. Within four hours the which he could not rule out the possibility of disease, pending the examination of many more sheep, lab tests and or a careful "wait and see". Again, HQ demands were resisted and the case proved not to be FMD. This stubbornness saved a pedigree, scrapie-resistant, hefted, fell flock; five contiguous fell flocks and two neighbouring dairy herds. It is very likely that young, overseas veterinarians would have followed HQ directions.
TheSOS policy was in every respect against the professional code of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and that it was enforced by members of the RCVS at the behest of those who paid their salaries raises serious ethical issues for the profession. In the civil service there is a distinction drawn between the advice given by professionals and the executive action taken by officials. The function is analogous to a reflex arc with the professional acting as the sensory component and the executive the motor. It was long ago realised that to require both functions from the same personnel would lead to error, most obviously from the perception of motor difficulties urging sensory functions into wishful thinking. Nevertheless, within the civil service, there is a widely understood, but never written, rule that professionals must only give the advice that officials wish to hear. Civil Service scientists must have a nose for what the officials require before deciding how to couch their advice. Adroit exponents of this art may expect to be rewarded. In the case of SOS, the policy decided upon by ministers required a whole-time veterinarian to instruct a fellow professional to disregard his professional training and ethical obligations and make guesses for which he would be held responsible. It has become notorious that under such pressure, many veterinarians opted to slaughter stock subsequently shown to be serologically negative.
All the evidence presented here, and available elsewhere, suggests that the FMD slaughter policy as set out by the Northumberland Committee was retained in outline, while the means for implementing it were down-graded to impotence. How and when this was done will a matter of public interest. It is certain that the contingency plan in place in January2001 was quite inadequate. The control of FMD is a veterinary practice that calls for a range of veterinary skills, not merely those of clinical diagnosis. It is not a matter for amateurs, however lifted, nor for non-clinical scientists and certainly not for administrators. It requires the rapid integration of several functions by trained professionals. Some of these need not be veterinarians, but they must be competent and whatever their area of expertise, they require training in FMD control. In the lecture by Professor Burrow mentioned at the start of this paper, Burrow amplified his comment to say that the control of FMD tested severely every aspect of public polity and administration, for deficiencies would be cruelly exposed. And so they have. It is difficult to believe that persons with past experience of FMD could have subscribed to the administrative system that was supposed to cope with FMD in 2001. The clinical protocols defied common sense, let alone the imperative to act quickly. One must conclude that MAFF officials have either received erroneous advice, or have chosen to ignore sound advice. It is almost certain that the advent of information technology (computers) and improvements in biological technology (lab tests) led them to carry out a long-cherished desire to reduce the powers and numbers of the State Veterinary Service and to create a tightly-operated, highly-centralised system under their own control and without local veterinary management. Even so, they gave no thought to how this new system would work in practice and the paperwork upon which it depended remained ancient and unreformed.
It is not enough for the government to claim that it has eradicated the disease by October 2001, as if that were the sole criterion of success. The cost has been enormous, the waste has been enormous and the suffering, both animal and human has been enormous. Much of it was unnecessary. It is to be hoped that those charged with enquiring into the various aspects of the2001 epidemic will not shrink from challenging their terms of reference which will almost certainly be couched so as to preclude criticism of the MAFF/DEFRA mandarins who have been responsible for this catastrophe.
The vet Helen O'Hare gives her eye-witness account of the cruel methods used during slaughter.
Jan 5 ~ A slaughterer told me later, that he was told to gut the ewes when they were put on the pyre, and he removed lambs from inside them which were still alive, he said that he had vomited into the mask he was wearing. My partner Nick was told by the slaughter vet, four days afterwards, that the killing of our animals had been pointless. Click here.
From the Guardian ~ Mass culling on New Year's Day, on top of the 3.9m animals slaughtered over the past 10 months on almost 9,400 farms, carried a certain symbolism in the local pub, the Hollybush Arms. Farming neighbours of Mr Weeks had little to celebrate. "We have seen this all before," said one, who recalled the re-emergence of the disease in the south of the county late last August.
Dec 30 ~ Bryn's comments about the failure of the RCVS to uphold its own standards.
Dec 28 ~ A very similar case, equally distressing as that below, in which the RCVS Preliminary Investigation Committee has decided that vets are not to blame, is described in this letter from Frances..."I am not a vet, but I do know that airborne transmission of Pan Asian "O" type Foot and Mouth virus which is concerned in this epidemic is so unlikely as to be considered a minimal risk at worst. If I know this, and this research has been carried out in our very own world-renowned lab at Pirbright, should we not expect that government vets and scientific advisers are also up to speed on the latest information available? "
Dec 28 ~ " I fear many farmers like him who have been treated in this manner will never trust a vet again." Read this letter from Quita containing a RCVS written response to a complaint, and join those of us whose blood is rapidly reaching boiling point.
Dec 12 ~ Bryn has written an open letter to Rolf Harris:"The GILWERN atrocity was an epic example - a rifleman caught on a home video camera taking pot-shots at sheep in a field and failing to kill cleanly on more than one occasion. I have the FULL report if you would like to see it. There were over 2,000 cases of cruelty reported to the RSPCA and not one has ended up in court. "
Nov 18 ~"Does anyone remember the case of a man who was convicted of cruelty for putting a diamond stud in his cat's ear? He wanted him to be easily recognisable. Now, the government mania for identifying all farm animals without exception has now decreed that sheep must have TWO studs..." Another reminder that we inhabit a world without logic, without common sense and without justice.
Aug 29 ~ Professor Robb is horrified to see on television cattle pursued by slaughtermen with riflesand sends an angry letter to DEFRA and, in spite of the incident being televised, receives the usual reply that " they could do little about this without specific information about the exact time and place of the incident"
Aug 26 ~ The callousness is beyond belief...Here is an extract from today's Sunday SunA North man has spoken of his horror after witnessing slaughtermen chase terrified cattle around fields with high-powered rifles.
Alan Dixon, 47, claims he saw desperate animals trying to escape by jumping fences when slaughtermen turned their guns on them at Stone Hall Farm in Catton, Northumberland.
The farm is the second holding hit by the fresh outbreak of foot and mouth in Northumberland in the last three days. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs moved onto the farm yesterday in a bid to stop the disease spreading further.
Mr. Dixon, of Bedlington, Northumberland, said: "These animals were not rounded up and were shot in the fields. They were so distressed they were trying to climb over fences to get away. Five of them tried to hide at the bottom of the field but were still shot. "I have no problem with animals infected with foot and mouth being killed, but this was completely inhumane. "They should have been rounded up and put into pens and disposed of out of sight of each other. This made me very angry because it is simple cruelty"
A Government spokesman said: "Our slaughter teams operate under veterinary supervision. If we find they are operating outside the standards we expect then action will be taken."
Aug 4 Genocide of the Mute in the Daily Mail
July 21 Nick's account of the slaughter of fell sheep" Alone in a huge open fell was one dead Rough Fell ewe! Obviously she had escaped and was gunned down in a last ditch and desperate fight for freedom! She had failed; like many thousands of others today"
July 17 email received on the forum: "Here is the text from the Martin Samuel column in the Expressfrom Friday 13th July with a letter purporting to corroborate the Green Howard's letter that you sent me."
Jul 15 from the Penrith Herald July 14th"The death of our animals helped nobody, not our neighbours, not the farms in the locality and not the national policies and actions against foot and mouth."
July 5th The Slaughterman's Diary from Horse and Hound magazine"Told about cow shot yesterday - as they tried to pith her, she stood up and ran round the barn. Six slaughtermen jumped on her and shot her twice more. She must have been demented with fear. Every slaughter and welfare rule is broken here and MAFF just stand by and watches..."
June 19th Skipton horror...He had never witnessed anything like this before! He was absolutely appalled! He did not know if the cattle were infected but reckoned they had been grazing normally that afternoon! His experience and knowledge will be very useful in court....
June 14th ~ Defra/Maff's wish to eradicate healthy animals continues.
June 14th Benson caseMaff/Defra officials go back on their word in Devon
(Knowstone, Devon)See larger extract "So what happened? Did commonsense triumph over illegal thuggery? No, MAFF came back at 5.00 a.m. this morning, forced entry with a huge police escort, threatened the 70 year old owner with arrest if he resisted, and killed his healthy cows"
The Soldier's story and brief extracts from similar horror stories
Mr Pedrick's story
Misty the pet goat
A pet cow called "Moo"
Colin Stokes' Braydon flock in Dumfries - irreplaceable, healthy and with 50 blooming lambs killed before John Gouriet's eyes
Extract from Apocolypse in Eden
The Carolyn Hoffe case illegal entry
and the Winslade case Winslade
May 23 Alan and Mandy Nichol -article from Newcastle Journal
What the RSPCA said...
Open Letter to Vets from Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (representing ALL European vets)
TOP of PAGE
23 May 2001
by Anna Lognonne, The Journal (Newcastle Journal) Maff officials have been blamed by a North-East farming family for bringing foot-and-mouth on to their farm.
Alan and Mandy Nichol, from Hetherington Farm, Wark, near Hexham, watched yesterday as their 300 sheep were slaughtered.
They believe that the virus came on to the farm after Maff workers Washed wagons used to transport contaminated animals on their land. A spokesman for the Newcastle Emergency Disease Control Centre last Night promised a full investigation.
Mrs Nichol said: "We've been worried about them washing their wagons There for weeks and now our sheep, who have been there for generations and to Us are irreplaceable, have to be taken out."
Later Maff announced that an automatic cull of animals within overlapping 3km zones of premises infected by foot-and-mouth disease in North Cumbria had ended yesterday.
A spokesman said the move follows a "significant slowdown" in the number of new cases of the disease in the area.
More than 420,000 sheep, goats and pigs within the 3km zones have been slaughtered since the policy was introduced on March 15. Cattle were not part of the scheme and have not been affected.
Now, animals near infected premises will only be culled if their blood tests are positive. TOP of PAGE
If people really knew what was going on I think there'd be a revolution.A letter from a soldier serving with the Green Howards who assisted with the slaughter operation in the Worcester area, and second a compilation of statements made by people who have assisted on farms and at the killing grounds in Powys.
" we were briefed that we'd be 'clearing up' - burning and/or burying carcasses of animals humanely destroyed by trained vets and slaughtermen. But that's all turned out to be more spin and propaganda. What we're actually doing is 'mopping up' - killing animals they've left behind or can't be bothered to finish off.
My regiment has got all sorts of battle honours for fighting Britain's enemies all over the world, but we're now engaged in heroic hand-to-hand combat with lambs. Their mothers have been shot but some were so frightened by the noise that they'd escaped all over the place. As we don't have any humane killers, the cleanest way of killing them is just to throw them in the river. We might be trained to kill enemy soldiers, but slitting the throat of a spring lamb, or beating its brains out with a blunt instrument, is just too much for some of the lads, so they'd rather drown them, even if it's not really as quick.
One of my mates was detailed to stand by a pig which was giving birth. As each piglet was born and crawled away he had to smash it with the back of a shovel. Once they'd all been born the pig was shot with all the others.
Worst of all are the cows that have been shot but not finished off by the slaughtermen. Some are still crawling around, others are clearly still alive but unable to move. We have to beat them to death with lorry spanners or other heavy lumps of iron.
If people really knew what was going on I think there'd be a revolution. All the animals I've seen appeared to be quite healthy. The MAFF people say it's the only thing that can be done, but if you ask them why they can't vaccinate, they all come up with different reasons, none of which sound very convincing.
Please publicise this. The more people know what a mess this is, the sooner we can stop being unarmed slaughtermen and go back to being proper soldiers"
TOP of PAGE
- - - - - - - - - "They had to get the lads from the farms in to help out because the digger drivers were just throwing up all the time because of the smell...
...there were grown men running around crying because of the animals - all the small lambs and calves ....
..lots of the sheep and a few of the cattle were heavily pregnant and as they were shot they gave birth and we had to go in and kill the calves and lambs .
...some of the animals were still alive in the lorries. carrying corpses, they must have been stunned and come round ....
.....lots of the sheep were very stressed out when they were driven out of the lorries - some of the very pregnant ewes were really bad......
.a mate of mine said there were live sheep trying to get out of the burial pit when they' all been tipped in as dead bodies."
TOP of PAGE
What the RSPCA says
"The RSPCA has... made it absolutely clear to the Ministry of Agriculture that the welfare of the individual animals involved must not be compromised and
that each and every animal affected by these measures must be handled, transported and, where necessary, slaughtered in accordance with humane guidelines. Every possible step must be taken to prevent stress and suffering at all stages of the process.
...and reminds us - rightly -that it is a charity relying entirely on public generosity. But how can this charity ignore the FVA recommendations to minimise this unnecessary slaughter of healthy animals to regain FMD free status?"
open letter to vets from FVE Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (representing ALL European vets)
TOP of PAGE
1. Mr Pedrick's Story
Mr. Pedrick told the whole long story, which started off with them coming to kill the pigs which were being fattened on his farm, because the man who actually owned them either had f and m at his place or had been somewhere where they had it (I'm not quite clear here). Anyway, MAFF told Mr. Pedrick that the pigs must be killed; then, as they were a dangerous contact, the bullocks in the shed. They came back later and killed his cows and calves, and then days later, came and killed all his point of lay pullets.
Later still, they came and killed his sheep - it was no doubt a typical cock-up, because 3 or 4 of them escaped into his neighbour's field with their sheep (which were, incidentally, not killed)- they got them back and shot them (I think a couple of days later), but one escaped.
That all took place over a little while - and then, much later, the missing ewe appeared with a lamb. Mr. Pedrick decided to keep them and said that they gave him a bit of hope - and lots of people in the village remarked to him how lovely it was seeing them in the empty field.
Then the MAFF vet noticed them in the field and Mr. Pedrick was told that they would have to be slaughtered. He said no, it was five weeks since all the other animals had gone and he wasn't prepared to have these killed without a blood test, which MAFF refused to do. When they came round to his farm, he wouldn't let them in. It was then time for him to collect his youngest grandchild from school and the vet said that he wouldn't do anything for now. When Mr. Pedrick returned from school, he found they had killed the sheep and they were just taking them away - and the vet had already gone. At no time did Mr. Pedrick sign anything or agree to this.
He is deeply upset about this and very angry. He is a gentle man, who agreed to all his other animals being killed without any complaint, because he thought it was for the good of his neighbours (How many times have we heard that before??). He is upset because they wouldn't agree to a blood test - and simply furious that they went behind his back in that way and just murdered his animals. He also said the main MAFF vet who dealt with most of his animals was Mrs. Stella Bevan and he said she was very unsympathetic and unpleasant - and the vet who did this dire deed with the sheep was a Mr. J. D. O'Brien (I do hope I've got the names right here).
He is 60 years old and said he must restock again, because he's got to earn a living, but says his whole heart has gone out of it now. He is a very nice, patient man and I would dearly love to do something to help him.
A P.S. to this story - Mr. Pedrick also told me that they wouldn't let him help or go near when they 'cleaned' his farm and he found a lot of damage done after they'd left, which will cost a lot of money (stuff burnt? and ruined). He says he probably won't be able to get any money back, because he won't be able to prove they did it.
TOP of PAGE
2. Misty the pet goat. A cowardly act -
I have been one of the unknown background campaigners for Mossburn in Dumfrieshire - proud to stand beside cross spectrum (political and age) "real" people.
I believe the tide may be turning.
My input has been small, confined to a couple of days on the front line and the days I cannot be there, on the "electronic" line. I have emailed autograph dealers from here to USA with outline details of the campaign and asked them to email their address book names. If any of their contacts mail to "dormant" British citizens, hopefully more will join our protests instead of watching "Coro"....while saying "sad, but we can't change anything" - Yes they can.
On your web page, you might like to tell the true, absolutely true story of Kirstie and Misty.
The police called at Kirsty's (21yrs old) home in Lockerbie whilst she was at work. The police then kept her mum talking while MAFF 'officials' climbed over wall into her garden. They 'executed' - the only word for it - her pet goat Misty - it had not been out of the garden and perfectly healthy. They then dumped Misty on the pavement to load her on the truck.
Kirsty arrived home to see Misty on the pavement, was understandably very distraught and was promptly arrested by the police for breach of the peace, confined in a cell for 3 1/2 hours withou mum being allowed to comfort or contact her.
The press in general, have ignored this, one of the most heartrending stories I have heard.
Kirsty has bravely stood beside me at Mossburn, with her mum & step-dad - decent ordinary people whose lives have been torn apart by this crazy, financial bloodlust and greed!
My phone number for any clarification , or if I can help anyone caught up in this Ken Russell madness is - 01357 522 282 or 07 957 957 109.
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE AND REMEMBER THE OTHERS WHEN YOUR DANGER IS PAST!
TOP of PAGE
Extract from John Gouriet's eye-witness account on Monday night. - unbelievable behaviour of vet and culling team.
The message was urgent. Maff were about to move in on a farm adjacent to Rabbie Burns' farm north of Dumfries. Colin Stokes, a wool weaver and organic farmer, had been developing a new breed of sheep he called Braydon for the last fifteen years. They were not only unique, but famed for their quality of coloured wool that provided some of the finest weaves in the world. Colin's flock numbered 200. He'd just enjoyed one of his best lambing seasons ever. The flock was fit and resistant to FMD, being organic and one Borax 30.
No other flocks remained alive within miles. His misfortune was to tbe situated on the very edge of a Maff 3km culling zone. Maff were determined to take his sheep and applied their usual tactics; "Your neighbours will never forgive you. You will be public enemy number one. You have no right to resist and we will stop your compensation if you hold us up. Every other farm has been culled - so why should your sheep survive?" The Maff killing machine is as relentless as Rommel.
The train was still nearly an hour from Lockerbie, but for once Virgin were excelling themselves and as we rattled along, I arranged to be met at Lockerbie and driven across country to Laggan Burn on the Holywood road. Unfortunately our directions were poor. Suddenly we came upon a Maff killing squad halted on the main road, but several miles short of our destination. I commented; "Pity we haven't time to help that poor fellow, we'd better push on so that we can be prepared. At least they will be held up for a while there."
We drove on. Laggan Burn Farm was nowhere to be found and no one had heard of Mr. Stokes. Precious minutes ticked by. At last we were redirected back towards Burns' old farm, where to my horror we realised that Laggan Burn was the very farm where we had seen Maff preparing forty minutes earlier. A small convoy of military and freight vehicles stood by.
By now Maff had started their grisly work. Three or four men in white overalls from the Dumfries dole-queue were manning a spray lorry at the entrance. I stormed up the track, having had my shoes sprayed. A further seven soldiers and slaughtermen, also clad in white overalls, lounged against a gate or prowled the track. An attractive young blonde was bending over a small pen of chocolate to beige coloured lambs, all bleating piteously, as she systematically jabbed them with a long and lethal needle, and left them to stagger aimlessly until they collapsed beside their fellows. A growing pile of limp, flattened little figures lay beside the pen. Two other pens were crammed so tightly with sheep that it was not immediately obvious the occupants of the furthest pen were already dead.
The slaughter stopped abruptly on my arrival. I demanded to know who was in charge and explained that under both UK and EU law the cull of healthy stock was illegal. The young blonde vet, Catrina, shocked me. She was flushed and smiling. She was clearly enjoying her work and might have been engaged in quite another activity! But pity any man who climbs into bed with such a werewolf! I asked her if she could prove these sheep were infected, and if not why was she killing them? Her response was "Can you prove they are not infected?" to which I replied that it was her responsibility to prove infection before culling, and if she persisted criminal proceedings would be launched against her personally.
She stalked off to give the spray-man a rocket for not apprehending me, and ordered him to spray me from the waist down when I left as a reprisal. She refused to give her name or speak after that. Meanwhile a young and chirpy slaughterer told me that "Vaccination is a waste of time and doesn't work. The only way is kill everything. That's government policy and we are just obeying orders." He was arrogant enough to try to deride the reputation of Professor Fred Brown and other world experts on FMD who have consistently advocated vaccination and confirmed that FMD is neither fatal to stock nor dangerous for human consumption. "Do you realise these sheep are unique?" I asked. "No difference to me mate, a sheep's a sheep!" was the chilling reply.
Corporal Smith of the Highlanders, in charge of the killing squad, informed me that Colin Stokes, the owner had given permission for the cull in exchange for keeping one ram, four ewes and five lambs. I therefore had to concede that they were legally at liberty to continue, although I have no doubt whatever that Colin had been intimidated. He however had left his property, too distraught to witness his life's unique work being destroyed so cruelly and wantonly. I did remain for a while, although the Police had been summoned to remove me. The captive bolt pistols were soon popping around the pen. But they did not always stun or kill instantaneously. One prime ewe remained obstinately alive, its horn caught in a rail as it struggled, another with blood oozing out of the back of its head fixed me with a bright amber eye, appealingly. I had to ask that they be put out of their misery immediately. Then I left, appalled by what I had seen.
The spray-man was not foolhardy enough to try to spray me from the waist down! As we drove off to instruct Braidwoods, our solicitors in Dumfries, a call came through to say Carolyn Hoffe at Whithorn was still holding out with her five rare pet sheep safely barricaded in her sitting-room at my suggestion. A police car passed us going in the opposite direction.
Scenes like this are being repeated up and down the country. Farmers fear Maff more than FMD. They fear the telephone just as Jews feared a knock on the door sixty years ago in Europe. It is reminiscent of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Treblinka. As then it is evil and unnecessary. The only differences are that today it is animals that are being burned, and farmers can and should appeal.
John adds an appeal to all of us who read this -
To help British Farmers fight for the survival of their healthy animals, please donate whatever you can afford to
The Legal Fund,
Freedom in Action,
32 Addison Grove
London W4 1ER.
Tel: 07831 342 909 or 01984 656256 (Tel/Fax)
TOP of PAGE
One story from June's "Cumbria Life"entitled "Apocalypse in Eden" describes how Maff laid waste to the valley. It includes comment: "It was not so easy to betray Millie our pet goat. The nice valuer looked at her and asked her very politely what she was worth. She gazed back at him with golden glass eyes and said nothing at all but thoughtfully began to eat the MAFF paperwork".
Poor Millie got the chop though.
From Jane's Diary - an extract about Knowstone in Devon
Whilst I was gardening and ignoring the computer yesterday, all hell was breaking loose in Knowstone. I should know better than to try and take 'time out' these days.
The confirmed case is indeed the farm over which the panicking bullocks ran during MAFF's cull fiasco three weeks ago. At the time they agreed to have their sheep culled, as they were out in the field the bullocks rampaged through. Their cows were inside, and at no point under any risk. The cows have been checked by the vet every other day since and pronounced fine. Then suddenly MAFF declare that one of the sheep culled three weeks ago had tested positive (a completely unconfirmed diagnosis as far as the farmer is concerned) and all the healthy cattle has to go too.
Sufficient people turned up yesterday to prevent MAFF carrying out this illegal act. They included a former High Sheriff of Devon, an army major and neighbouring farmers and villagers (hardly 'Rent-a-mob') and they persuaded the police to get MAFF to stand off as they were on dubious legal ground. So what happened? Did commonsense triumph over illegal thuggery? No, MAFF came back at 5.00 a.m. this morning, forced entry with a huge police escort, threatened the 70 year old owner with arrest if he resisted, and killed his healthy cows.
By the time the supporters arrived it was all over.
The TV reported it as 'rural terrorism'.
This is the sort of treatment meted out by the Drug Squad on the secret lair of illegal dealers, and it's being used on pensioners who have committed NO CRIMES, in rural Britain, in the middle of an election campaign, by government employees.
There are hours and hours of election programmes bickering about this and that and nothing that anyone cares about - so why do we never hear a word on what is being perpetrated by (what I once foolishly believed would be a socialist) government, and the downright abuse of ordinary law-abiding citizens in their own homes??? They are killing healthy animals faster now than they were at the height of the epidemic, but it seems no-one finds anything strange in this. Perhaps they will use the same logic to solve the waiting lists in the National Health Service - "oh yes, you look a bit off colour - just take this overdose would you?" Just wait..........once they are back in government they simply won't be able to keep this quiet any longer and by golly, will it hit the fan hard when it gets out. If this can make someone as pathetically law-abiding as I am so ANGRY, then what on earth is it doing to those who have less scruples? I can see real civil unrest as a result of it all - and it won't just be a few bolshy truckers this time, it will be rural middle England driven to revolution" From Jane's Diary ~ (see Beats' newsletter )
TOP of PAGE
Defra vets from Barton, nr Preston - who have already signed over 200 healthy alpacas to be slaughtered, now want to kill 2 more pet alpacas and several pygmy goats at Gisburn Lancashire. They belong to Mrs M Hindley who is fighting the slaughter threat with the help of her solicitors. If anyone has any further information I would be grateful.
TOP of PAGE
(This information was posted up on the Merinosheep.com website June 14th. )
"6 alpacas belonging to Commander Benson and his wife were slaughtered by DEFRA. The premises were infected , but the alpacas were kept on a separate part of the farm with a wood between them and the cattle/sheep. Defra gained entry by saying they would kill sheep and cattle , but would leave alpacas alone. But once on the premises said they would not leave until the alpacas were taken as well. Commander Benson is elderly and has a wife terminally ill with cancer. After hours of DEFRA pressure he gave in, mainly due to the fact he did not want legal action in his circumstances....."
This posting was followed by another from a different e-mailer (the names of the senders are attached to the postings but no email address. Bob Rawlins at the site will know how to contact them if necessary):
"The owners, Commander & Mrs Benson are both elderly and not in good health. As a result of MAFF's bully boy tactics I understand Commander Benson had a slight heart attack.
The land agent who was trying to protect their interests in preserving their alpacas was assaulted by the police and removed to the local police station. MAFF who had gained entry to slaughter the infected cattle and apparently uninfected sheep refused to leave even when the owners were considering legal action. I also understand that MAFF HQ had agreed to quarantine the alpacas but Exeter District office "knew better" and when they had worn down the owner's resistance they slaughtered the animals.
Please do not try to get in touch with Commander or Mrs Benson as it will cause them even more distress. The land agent (to whom I have spoken) is more than willing to speak to anyone who has any constructive ideas. Get in touch via myself - if you don't know my contact details Bob Rawlins or any member of BLAA does! rn
Tried to interest the Daily Mail in the story as background to unecessary slaughter of animals, disgraceful behaviour by MAFF etc etc. They were not interested unless someone had actually died! The illegal and needless slaughter of healthy animals is just no longer news.
Its a sad and sick country. " TOP of PAGE
This story appeared in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley review.
A Forest animal owner and the local community are outraged after Moo the cow that thought she was a horse was slaughtered in front of pub owner and diners last Sunday lunchtime.
Moo's owner Lesley Wogan was devasted. She had been desperately battling with MAFF officials to try and save her cow which was in a paddock with a pregnant mare opposite a local pub.
Eight MAFF officials just turned up and there was nothing that could be done. It was just killing for the sake of killing. Her views were echoed by pub landlord Brian Penethman. His wife Yvonne watched in disbelief as the cow was killed by fatal injection and removed from the paddock dangling from a mobile crane in front of diners eating their lunches. People were in tears and they couldn't eat their lunches. Mr. Penketham didn't charge them. It was much worse that the loss of trade because Moo spent a great deal of time in the paddock beside the pub and was a pet to local children. She always came to the gate when they called her.
Mr. Penkethman call MAFF the next day to tell them how upset he was but they said they had to act quickly to avoid protesters.
The horse and the cow used to even lie down together so Mrs. Worgan asked MAFF if they could wait to avoid upsetting the horse but they went ahead anyway.
She also asked for the cow to be tested for foot and mouth but they said it was too expensive. TOP
PANIC, INDIFFERENCE AND BUREAUCRACY IN EDEN
The Penrith Herald, 14th July 2001
LIKE hundreds of farming families in the Eden area, Ann Thackeray, husband Leslie and son Keith, of High Scales Farm, Shap, have lost their livestock to the foot and mouth cull and, again like many others, they believe the process was brutal and pointless.
In this article, Mrs. Thackeray writes of her feelings when the vets and slaughtermen came and her anger over the "barbaric vacuousness" of the cull policy.
THIS is a nasty, brutish and short story - the chronicle of the nightmare every farmer in Cumbria dreads. It is a story which signifies the end of a traditional way of life; a story which shows the face of 21st Century government to be panic driven, indifferent to people's rights and feelings and in the grip of bureaucratic dogma and unproven procedures.
We are talking here of the death of the innocent - the loss of our farm stock in a "dangerous contact" cull and the transformation of our beautiful riverside hay meadows into killing fields.
It all happened very quickly and indeed in the speed of it all lay our defencelessness. We never knew what was really happening and nobody ever told us. The relentless pace of events Is probably defended on the grounds of efficiency.
The reality is that if you tell people too much, then they might organise themselves, object to the Government's barren and mechanical thinking and slow down the supposed clear-up rate. "Kill everything quickly" is the reality behind the empty rhetoric of the "rigorous action" to tackle foot and mouth..
Our tragedy unfolded over four days. On Saturday, 16th June, foot and mouth was confirmed in some cattle owned by another farmer in a neighbouring field to ours at Orton, about two miles from High Scales. We had 34 sheep and three cows in that field.
The MAFF vet visited, examined the stock with our son, who manages the farm, and then went to another field we own, about two miles away again, to cheek stock there, because of possible infection from the Orton field to the Kelleth field. The stock in both fields was examined, but no decision was reached.
Nothing happened on Sunday, 17th, and we thought that, at worst, we might have infected stocks in two fields, one two miles and the other four miles away from our main farm.
On Monday, 18th, the same MAFF vet visited our home farm, examined stock, went back to our Orton field and pronounced one of our bullocks infected. There was a second visit to Kelleth, where stock was also believed to be infected.
By Monday evening we knew that the first act of our tragedy was underway. We would have to lose all the stock on those two detached fields, a total of 64 sheep and three cows in all.
Tuesday, 19th, was our darkest day, when a malignant fate and a malignant MAFF delivered the body blow. We had a telephone call at 8-20am during which we were told the proof of infection at our Orton field meant that all our stock would be subject to a "dangerous contact' cull.
We were told little more except that there was a restriction order on our movement off the farm. We were informed a valuation officer would visit and value the stock before the slaughter team arrived, probably in the late afternoon. What an irony, death with the tea cups - they came at tea time.
We are very bitter about the lack of communication and information. We were treated with a dismissive indifference. We were not told whether we had any rights, any channel of protest, any protection in law, any means of delaying the whole business. We were not told we could have insisted on a blood test for each animal before slaughter.
We were a 'dangerous contact" farm and the cull and the whole dreadful business unfolded with relentless inexorable tread. We had nobody to turn to. All we could do was listen and watch.
The slaughter team came and we rounded up our stock. The animals came in quietly, with none of the usual rough and tumble and joie de vivre. Cows in one field, sheep in another lambs in a small corner. Thent then the killing was done.
Innocent, not guilty
The vet told us each animal would be blood tested before it was killed and that we would know after the deaths, whether they had had the disease or not. We now know that our whole stock was innocent, not guilty there was no infection, none, not anywhere. And who, in MAFF, in Government, at 10 Downing Street, cares now?
After the slaughter team we had the clearing up team, which shovelled up our dead stock, our dead livelihood, and took it away. By midnight the desolation was complete. We were given a valuation of our stock. Our farm was silent.
On Wednesday, 20th, we had the disinfecting team and a MAFF field officer, who peremptorily asked us if we agreed the valuation. We were given no time to think or to ask advice. Still stunned from the speed of events and the slaughter, we accepted. Officials came and went for the rest of the day. By the evening of that Wednesday we were no longer a fell farm, run for more than three generations in an honest, traditional way. We were only a statistic on somebody`s spreadsheet and, perhaps worst of all, an innocent statistic, because we did not carry the disease at all.
The death of our animals helped nobody, not our neighbours, not the farms in the locality and not the national policies and actions against foot and mouth. Changing the name of the Ministry of Agriculture does not change the barbaric vacuousness of its policies. We hope Margaret Beckett is listening
Here is the text from the Martin Samuel column in the Express from Friday 13th Julywith a letter purporting to corroborate the Green Howard's letter that you sent me.
"The soldier from the Howards is right. They had the UK side of the Welsh border and had some shit jobs. But the Army/Navy/RAF on the Welsh side had an equally bad time of it. You want the proof of what we had to do? Ask the following questions to a military source:
a) Why was Payment for Work of an Objectionable Nature authorised at the higher rate? This is normally reserved for dealing with human remains, yet the Army approved payment for all personnel involved in the Op.
b) Why did we need padres in the field and how many people have reported to the welfare services with problems arising from the Op? The initial phase of the Op was during the lambing season. When a sheep is killed it spontaneously aborts. That is why we were slitting the throats of unborn lambs. Can you imagine what it is like to be covered in blood, brains and snot for 18 hours a day, then going back to rotting carcasses the next day to do it all over again? All for an extra 15 quid - taxable!
The slaughterers could not keep up with the task and MAFF was a shambles. It used the forces to readjust its Op orders because the ministry couldn't cope. It needed a cull more than the animals. The reports died down during the election run-up but look at the increase now. Makes sense, does it?
Farming suicides blamed on crisisSophie Lomax
Friday June 15, 2001
Three farmers from the same Welsh county killed themselves because they could not cope with the pressures of their crisis stricken business, inquests heard yesterday.
Foot and mouth was blamed for troubles which drove Glyn Lewis, 59, from Llwyn-y-maes, to hang himself in a shed full of cattle on April 21.
The mid-Wales county of Powys, where the three men lived, has suffered the worst foot and mouth outbreak in the country, with 54 of 92 cases recorded in Wales.
Coroner John Hollins told the inquest, one of three held at Welshpool town hall, that Mr Lewis had not used his lorry for seven weeks because he was afraid of carrying the disease to areas unaffected by the disease.
Despite foot and mouth not being confirmed on his 90-acre farm, his cattle and sheep were due to be culled.
John Mostyn, a friend of Mr Lewis, said the farmer thought his business was "finished". He told the hearing: "His mood changed with the outbreak of foot and mouth. I used to say 'We are not finished, Glyn' but no one could persuade him any other way."
PC Matthew Thomas said Mr Lewis had become worried when he could not help others fight the disease. "Mr Lewis was suffering because of the constraints of foot-and-mouth. He did not want to take the risk of bringing it to the area.
"His cattle were to be culled in the next couple of days; it seems that his business was a huge part of his life. He was a very, very popular man and being the sort of person he was, he wanted to help everyone then worried when he could not."
The second farmer John Bayliss, 56, was found dead from a single gunshot wound to his head at the family's Borfa Wen farm in Kerry, Newtown, in April.
The inquest heard that although none of his cattle had been confirmed as having foot and mouth, the farm had had restrictions placed on it.
PC Clare Dolphin told the hearing a restrictionnotice had been placed on the farm because a contractor who had been on an affected farm had visited it.
Mr Bayliss had received the notice on the same day he had been given clearance to move his stock for the first time since the start of the outbreak, she said.
Mr Bayliss's wife, Rita, told the inquest: "There were lambs everywhere. They were dirty and wet and couldn't be moved."
A third farmer, Brian Oakley, 54, who had a 20 year history of depression, was found hanged in March. He had suffered a breakdown at the end of the 1990s caused by the crisis in the farming industry which resulted in falling prices, from which he never recovered.
His wife, Gillian, told the inquest that the couple had been forced to sell their 270 acre farm and move to a smaller one at Llanfechain in mid-Wales.
Mr Hollis said he was certain that foot and mouth and BSE had exacerbated the situations. "The crisis in the farming industry has been catastrophic for the families of these three decent men and their deaths are to be deeply regretted."
He called on the farming unions to find some way of reaching out and supporting members of the farming community affected by the recent crises, describing the deaths as "catastrophic".
ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH INQUIRY
CHAIR: (Welcomed everyone.)
FLOOR: There was too much delay and there were not the right experts. All diseases have a plan of action with the right experts for the job. Professor Brown came to Britain and was told he wasn't needed. Please use him in future. We were told in the beginning that the disease would not show. We were told that vaccinated stock would not be brought by supermarkets. - this was due to mis-information supplied to them. We need plans mapped out rather than just reacting. We jumped into a ditch - not over it. Vaccination programme would have meant the Countryside need not have closed. Vaccination must be looked at very seriously.
CHAIR: You may be interested to know that Prof.Brown is coming to see one of our Committees on Thursday.
FLOOR: Why wasn't every movement inspected immediately? MAFF lifted straw from FMD infected areas into clean areas. Infected straw should have been used on the pyres.
CHAIR: traceability is a changing scene.
FLOOR: I work for the NHS Trust and have looked into the general well-being and mental health of people affected and the cull had a profound effect on families. Farmers and their families suffered more than tourism. Children were affected - all this should be taken into account when people keep saying culling is the right policy and would be used again'
The 1967 recommendations were not acted on. Will the recommendations from this and other Inquiries be taken into account in future?
JUANITA WILSON: I am sitting here tonight between two people who have suffered. On my right is Kirstin McBride, who you may know was today given an absolute discharge and Andy Hurst who admits he has lost his motivation. We felt as though we were in the midst of a civil war. This type of cull can never be allowed to happen. In fact the Judge today even questioned the legality of what went on.
FLOOR: The decision making is always political - not scientific. First it was the Chief Vet then the Chief Scientific Officer and then the epidemiologists. Each time it's a political decision as to which group of experts to listen to. The Inquiry must look at the politics. Those that made the decisions were obviously incompetent.
ROGER WINDSOR: The facts were that the '67 outbreak was controlled by the Chief Veterinary Officer. There was no interference from politicians. In its way the '67 outbreak of the disease was worse than this one as it peaked much higher. In the '67 outbreak there were over 80 outbreaks in a day as opposed to 40 in a day this time but at no time then did the Government panic.
The cull was not instigated by Vets but by chemists and mathematicians. Further outbreak of the disease should be handled by Vets not computer experts. We've seen hundreds of families damaged, people in court for acts taken to save their animals.
THIS MUST NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
FLOOR: I had one pet sheep in an acre of garden. Media and traffic were allowed to drive past infected premises. I thought Lockerbie would have been closed but it wasn't. I believe there are four ways the disease can spread:
(1) Windborne - there was not much evidence of that except where it was the smoke from the pyres. (2) Vehicles, (3) between animals and (4) on people and their clothes.
The concentration in fighting the disease was on the animals not on people. Farmers realised this early on and made themselves into fortresses and remained clean but got caught up in the contiguous cull.
A farmer near me was considered a dangerous contact. Two weeks later they came to kill his sheep. They came with an unsealed Ifor trailer and five other assorted vehicles. There was no disinfectant, the sheep were rugby tackled onto the trailer, killed, then their bodies taken off and the next group put on for killing. As they left I saw them wipe their feet on the grass. One had a sprayer and I saw him run up the road to a nearby animal watering trough, fill it and then spray back down the road to the farm. He then walked back through the sprayed area.
We had owned WOOLLY our sheep for 4years. We had no Form A, no blood test. Only 10 minutes notice. Ten slaughtermen came to my gate to slaughter him. I said I wanted my own Vet to put him down. I was told that I was holding up the Crown. Eventually I was allowed and my Vet injected WOOLLY. My sheep and these other sheep were trailered 10 miles to the pyre with blood and juices spilling onto the road. A farmer said to me if that's how they are handling it, we are dead beat'
My two young sons wanted to know what had happened to WOOLLY. I had to tell them that these people were taking him to a better place.
We organised a demo at the Bunker, where the disease was being controlled from;one of the group arrived late and asked a Defra official for directions to the particular gate that we were meeting at. He said he could not tell her, as it was an official secret! I could not believe how our rights were taken away so quickly. Defra acted like the Police. It was a nightmare scenario and I thought this was a democratic country.
FLOOR: Almost a year ago now my cattle were killed in a contiguous cull, but I don't wish to dwell on that. I instructed my Solicitor to write to MAFF. There was no acknowledgement.
What I never understood and have never had an answer to was how a Vet could issue my animals with a Form A despite never seeing them? I was told that she was 90% sure. They were taken away on a lorry not even to the nearby pyre.
I was born and brought up on a farm and my family before me. - I now have a complete distrust of Vets, NFU, the Government, the Scottish Executive and even some farmers. The only good thing to come out of this was the tremendous support from people off the street that I didn't even know - the very people who will pay for the cost of this fiasco
ALEX FERGUSON: I am an NSP in Galloway. I supported the cull from start to finish. What bothers me is:
At the start of the outbreak all premises were tested - soon that criteria changed to slaughter on suspicion then that triggered the 3km cull. What I think slew FMD was not all the culling but the fact that it just ran out. All of a sudden slaughter on suspicion was brought to an end and bloodtesting restarted and the disease halted
IMPORTED MEAT - I suspect Auction Marts will take the blame; they should not be the scapegoats, not when we know it almost definitely came through imported meat.
On first suspicion all movement of livestock should have stopped immediately.
The 67 Report had 100 recommendations - may I ask that this one has no more than 10 that can be updated.
I understood that the reason given for the 3km cull was to save cattle so why was the contiguous cull brought in? I supported the Scottish Assembly the whole way through but this must never happen again.
CHAIR: We had already discussed keeping fewer recommendations. I don't know how many it will be but it certainly will not be 100. We will be looking into imports.
FLOOR: On imported meat, we don't know how it came into this Country. The farmer at Heddon didn't do the swill - it was his neighbour and his animals never got FMD. He's being made a fall guy. He looks rough and unpleasant. He doesn't farm like most of us. His animals had been inspected by MAFF 2weeks earlier. MAFF/RSPCA inspected him 3 weeks prior. Did they miss something? Is he a fall guy?
New Zealand were disinfecting people in January. Canada knew before that. What is being hidden? I don't believe people are being straight. Why ban our exports yet import from 26 countries that have endemic FMD?
FLOOR: Our neighbour was confirmed on 2nd March. My sheep were not taken until 4th April. There was nothing wrong with them. We need to look into vaccination.
FLOOR: If the animals had not succumbed in four weeks test them. There are two tests now. It will take 20 minutes for a result. Everything should be tested before being killed. Contiguous culling claimed many farms only to find that the original farm tests came back negative. No logic was used. The smoke from pyres certainly played a part in the spread. When lit from the bottom pyres warm up bit by bit and the disease rises and gets blown in the wind. Where the wind blew the smoke so the disease erupted.
FLOOR: I didn't have FMD but a friend in Longtown had 360 milking cows. One developed a sore teat and soon he could only get 60 cows into the milking parlour. Vets should have the authority to say an animal should be killed now.
FLOOR: Vets said you would not be able to miss FMD in your animals
FLOOR: one thing to learn from this was that it was controlled from London. Local Vets had to contact Page Street to be told what they could do. Local Vets would have been more able to control it, as they would know the lie of the land. There needed to be daily confirmation among staff at the bunker. No one seemed to know what was happening. They all seemed to have their own worlds that they were working in.
A friend needed to go onto farms with potatoes. If one official said NO to a licence he would keep phoning till he got someone that would say YES.
FLOOR: Communication needs to be improved. The way the paperwork was dealt with was appalling. We had no outbreak, we were told that the paperwork was updated every five years but the paperwork that we were given was last updated 19 yrs ago. A Vet came on site working with carbon paper. Why not computers? They were always losing information.
ROGER WINDSOR 20yrs ago we had a State Veterinary Service that we could be proud of. But this has been drastically cut. All middle management ranks were cut - these were the people who dealt with the paperwork. Things were a disaster not because of those on the ground but because of those who weren't on the ground - those that had been cut. If we want good disease control then we have to pay for it.
FLOOR: I am in a unique situation. I am a farmer and I supply animal feed. All farms should have been put under strict restrictions. I made 50 lorry movements a day unchallenged. One farm eight miles away from the mill got FMD . It must have been spread by the wind. It was definitely windborne and sometimes confined to buildings. The Vet said that in one case the disease had blown in and dropped off the roofs in condensation onto the animals. We need clarification of how the disease is transmitted. MAFF didn't close us for months - - they proved in all these cases that the FMD was not spread through human contact so it wasn't my lorries.
FLOOR We obviously can not run 580 SVS Vets as in '67. We could do with almost a Territorial Army sort of thing. Train up Vets to deal with an emergency.
FLOOR: We must ensure in future that there must be someone that we can all trust to look to. I was affected at the end of April after a neighbouring farm went down. When they valued our sheep they also said they were to value the cattle as well but we weren't to sign the valuation sheet until they had decided whether or not to kill the cattle. In the end they did. We stopped the disease quicker in Scotland than elsewhere. If vaccination worked I would be 100% for it. There needs to be a structure in place where there are experts who can make decisions. My sheep and cattle were very much my life. Whether pets or farm animals and whatever policy is best we should go with the experts at the time. I grudgingly let mine go in the hope that I was helping someone else further down the line.
FLOOR: In my case my Vet Mr McKenzie said there was no risk of FMD on my farm. A Vet from Edinburgh confirmed that decision also. But London said slaughter. If we have experts lets listen to them NOT politicians 400 miles away.
ROGER WINDSOR: Someone asked about a T.A of Vets, this does already exist to a degree in LVi's. I think this is the way forward. There is a definite need for LVi's to be integrated and they should have a contract. There can be many spin-offs from this. Veterinary practices are fast disappearing - it won't be long before there will be hardly any rural practices in this Country. We have a plan which will be ready by Thursday (March 14) ready for a meeting where we will be discussing a T.A. of Vets.
FLOOR: Mr Windsor, there is a big difference between Vets on the ground and politicians. Vets take an oath to care for animals and then they had to go against that. How did they cope?
RICHARD WINDSOR: Going back to '67, experienced Vets took calls in London, which took the pressure off Vets on the ground. We changed staffing not policies. There were not enough staff to man the phones so guys off the street were brought into Page Street.
The serious ethical problems have caused me considerable anguish. It was quite wrong for Vets to slaughter healthy animals that were in no danger of getting the disease. I can't live with Vets seeing them healthy and then signing Form A's. I could not do it. Often they were young inexperienced Vets from outside Britain. Vets were threatened and blackmailed. One Vet was told that if he didn't sign the Form A then the farmer would not get his compensation when his animals were culled. What was this Vet supposed to do? THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN AGAIN.It has done our reputation no good at all - we have to rebuild that trust.
FLOOR The professionalism of the Vets was very good. Vets who took an oath to help animals and then spend their days killing them must have found it very difficult. It was all left too long resulting in many more animals having to be killed. We must keep FMD out of the Country and there must be a robust strategy for dealing with it in future
FLOOR I live and work in this area. Many other businesses were affected. Has anyone here got any information about the effect on the socio-economic impact on other industries in Dumfries and Galloway?
MARGARET BURTON of Dumfries & Galloway Chamber: I am here because I am interested to hear what the farming community has to say. I am due to give evidence tomorrow regarding the economic impact.
FLOOR I looked in on many local shops in Dumfries - everyone had lost money - even hairdressers - it was like a ghost town. Many farmers diversified into tourism so they were doubly affected by the crisis
CHAIR Tomorrow we are meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses
FLOOR: The '67 Report recommended the early introduction of the Army. I have been an Army Officer for 37yrs. Our files warn of the early introduction in a case of FMD and we were ready for that. The Bunker stated that when the Army did arrive it helped immensely. The Army has to be called out by the Government - the decision was not taken soon enough. The Army must be called in much earlier in future - this may have spared the 3km cull.
FLOOR: Our Council decided they were funding this fight from Day One. Dumfries and Galloway were between #4-6 million in debt by the time the Scottish Executive came up with any money. If we call in the Army who pays for them? We must have it from London that money is available for this.
FLOOR People selling stock from infected areas received #30-#50 less per animal, as there was nowhere else to send them.
Survivors who had been left with stock have sold them in the autumn at disadvantaged prices. They can't restock nor compete with prices against those with compensation cheques.
FLOOR It was disgraceful that the Police were used so much. At Mossburn they were due to be culled at 10am. The Police arrived at 6am, blocked off the road and didn't even allow essential staff through to feed the animal.
FLOR: Compensation? It should be compulsory purchase. If we were truly compensated then there would have been a much bigger bill.
CHAIR: There has been an element of repeatability this evening but I must thank you all for coming and speaking so freely and frankly.
Arrogance and muddle
Mrs Pat Innocent writes about the DEFRA package that arrived containing her "file":My solicitor first came up with this idea, then Jane Barribal reinforced it. You can ask DEFRA for your FMD file. I asked for mine on 29th December by writing to the Chief Vet DEFRA in Gloucester.
I was advised on 4th January that my request had been passed to someone else, then on 9th January I had a letter saying that if I sent a cheque for #10 to Mr D J Waller, Data Protection Officer, DEFRA, Room 546, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square London SW1P 3JR, "he will arrange for you to receive all data that you are entitled to see under the Data Protection Act within 40 days of receiving your payment."
So I did that. On 14th February it thumped through the letter-box.
It was about half an inch thick, a jumble no particular order, many duplicates, and did not give the impression that DEFRA had an efficient filing system
I found what I was looking for: "Mrs Innocent apparently informed a Veterinary Inspector that her sheep had run in the Forest of Dean up to early March 2001. In the opinion of the Veterinary Inspector, these sheep are therefore dangerous contacts and a form A was served on 19 April 2001." I actually told this Veterinary Inspector that I had grazing rights in the Forest. This was not quite the same thing. They had chosen to ignore the things I had said about the animals being isolated and housed, leaped upon this flimsy thing and twisted it round to suit their purpose. This had caused all the trouble. However, if it hadn't been dangerous contacts, they would have tried to get me on the contiguous cull, so it is not worth pursuing.
There was a letter from my solicitor dated 20th April seeking assurance that my animals would not be slaughtered, and Drummond's reply containing THE LIE and she "would be very grateful if you would ask Mrs Innocent to let me know whether she wishes a valuer to be appointed, or whether all her stock can be valued in accordance with the Foot and Mouth Disease Order......If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me."
"MAFF Veterinary Officer Franceska Drummond (second in command, MAFF Gloucester) replied on the same day stating that para 3 of Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act is triggered and explained why MAFF believe culling susceptible animals was vital to prevent further spread of the disease.
"Ms Drummond then asked for a vet and slaughter team to visit the following day".
Then a fax from Drummond to Page Street (Fred Landeg) "Are you happy for letter to be sent and for us to go ahead with visit to value and kill tomorrow?"
This still had the power to send a chill through me. I found the Veterinary Inspector's report - 2 copies of this: "sheep have run in Forest up to early March. Opinion high risk. 3/4/01. Borax- sensitive!" I presume this remark was because this woman told me borax could mask the symptoms of FMD. My sister is a homoeopath, and said no homoeopathic remedy would do this.
Here's the next vet assessment: "sheep are housed and kept isolated. Risk assessment low. Disease status negative. 18/4/01."
Then a dangerous contact declaration signed by Drummond dated 27th July. (Odd).
Then a report (2 copies) from the slaughter vet: "The policy of disease control and the need to remove potential/all sources of infection, which may in future infect new stock introduced into the area, was discussed. Mrs Innocent argued points regarding exposure to disease and testing of animals. As a state of non-co-operation was established, I withdrew from the property at 12.05."
Drummond to Page Street (3 copies of fax): "Large number of protesters were in the lane. (About 35, actually). Please advise on next action."
Drummond (hand-written note, does not say to whom) "Should this now be passed to (unreadable) for her team to persue? 21/4"
Then a threatening letter to me: "If co-operation with the second assessment is not forthcoming, the cull will proceed. Refusal to co-operate with, or obstruction of, an officer is an offence under the Law, and can result in prosectuion (sic)."
A letter from my solicitor requesting the cleanliness.or otherwise of the vet who came to slaughter. This was never replied to.
4 forms with nearby infected premises' addresses blanked out.
Then a 2nd assessment report - (this vet was great - no complaints here): "I believe that these sheep could not have had nose to nose contact with animals roaming free outside the boundaries of her property after January 2nd." Also my diagrams (2) of the sheep housing and a large-scale map of my property with such details as gates.
Piece of paper stating "It has been decided to test the sheep of those holding out against slaughter. Neil 13/5/01." No idea who this was to, or who Neil is.
Then a report from the vet who came round to talk me into having blood tests. (She thought I had 6 sheep - didn't she look at the records?) She complained that she had made 4 calls from 9-12 but I was out. (I wasn't, but must have been with the animals or on the land. How dare she complain after they had kept me in terror and isolation for weeks, that I was uncontactable for the three hours that she deigned to try?) Then she complained that I did not get in touch during the next 48 hours. (Happily agree to this: I wanted to get REAL information about blood tests before agreeing, not MAFFinformation. Thank you, Alan!). Then she came round and spoke to me, and I got the hard sell. This is where she said they were going from farm to farm taking blood without waiting 72 hours. When I complained, she told me not to tell her how to suck eggs. She omitted this bit in her report! Then she saw fit to add "Mrs Innocent wants 72 hours clean" as if it was unreasonable.
Then a draft letter for vets to show to farmers refusing access for blood sampling. It Includes the threat of a #5000 fine and a month in prison. I didn't actually get this because I agreed to blood tests on the grounds that I had previously been asking for them, everyone else was coming back negative, I had back-up blood tests, and it would get them off my back.
A form with 7 of us on it, 3 reprieved on the 2nd assessment (including me), 4 injunctions applied for - these were bled under Morley's instructions.
Letter from Drummond (3 copies): "I am very pleased that you have agreed to have your flock blood sampled."
A hand- written sheet saying I will be responsible for vet's fees for the second blood tests I was demanding. This is repeated several times, like #20-odd is the main issue.
A report of bleed visit stating "no sign of fmd" 19/6. This was carried out by the vet who did the second assessment. I had come to trust her.
5 letters saying "Thank you for your letter which is receiving attention."
16 copies of faxes to Police, 3 of which are different.
2 copies of form D MAFF to GCC.
Form A, Form B (with a note from David Parker saying (no risk, issue form B), Form D, Form E, sheets from my movement records, my vet and med book.
A form changing the date of form E on DCS to 13/7/01 "to coincide with paperwork". (What else have they changed in retrospect?)
A sheet saying "KEEP AS TOP DOC", then "CONFIRMED OUTBREAK - CHECK LIST", with "entered onto DCS, Vetnet & Database" and "Forms A and B" ticked. This form includes such things as "instruction to value and slaughter" (not ticked), confirmation of completion of disposal, payments to contractors.
There were no copies of correspondence from Page Street. Obviously this is not something we are allowed to know. Why not?
There was an air throughout that they were trying to carry out their job properly, and who was this awkward woman trying to stop them? I was not someone to be communicated with - they would decide what was to be done amongst themselves, and then do it to me. They seemed to have no idea of the terror and trauma they were leaving in their wake, and didn't seem to question what they were doing. TOP
August 10/13 2007 ~ More slaughter imminent - unless movement restrictions can be eased
Another aspect of the frozen situation in Surrey is the welfare issue. The restrictions on livestock movements are now causing problems of overcrowding. Issues of providing food, drink and temporary housing are becoming critical, particularly on intensive pig farms.
In 2001, movement restrictions led to scenes of utter misery for animals. So-called "welfare culls" killed healthy animals as much as the panicky contiguous culling did. Literally millions of animals died in horrible conditions; not just those who - in that much repeated phrase - "would have been slaughtered anyway". The loss of breeding stock was terrible but it was grim to see even meat animals consigned to such an end.
The NPA, alive to any political pressure that can be applied, is asking producers to keep a photographic record of their mounting pig welfare problems and warning that piglets will have to be killed "in-situ". This is a situation that is going to have to change urgently. Scotland and Wales, but not England, are allowing controlled welfare movements.
August 10/13 2007 ~ " the laboratory must move into the field and test animals quickly before irreversible actions are taken." ProMed
'ProMED' means 'Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases' and is the Internet-based reporting programme of the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID). The moderators are international experts in their field who screen, review, and investigate reports before posting to the network. ProMED-mail is independent and free of political constraints. To read on ProMed that diagnostic testing should now be "out of the laboratory" is very cheering. On Saturday, a ProMED moderator, in the course of a five paragraph comment about the UK situation, (www.promedmail.org)wrote:
"....In the past -- that is, pre-1980 -- when we killed "contact" herds it was not questioned and laboratory techniques then could not have handled the volumes of samples. Today all that is different and thousands of samples are run each day. This brings home the point that the laboratory must move into the field and test animals quickly before irreversible actions are taken..." (More)For six years warmwell and others have been asking that the analysis of samples should happen at the place where samples are actually taken, using already available, ever more affordable diagnostic kits, rather than be taken by car, train or air to the reference laboratory. Results can now be obtained in the field within minutes rather than hours and days, can detect FMDv before the onset of clinical disease and the "irreversible actions" such as we saw at Hunts Hill farm can be avoided. The "prototype RT-PCR" mentioned to our correspondent seems not to have been used on the suspect pig there. It is hard for an outsider to discover much - yet we read here for example:
"...We have performed 5 minimal infectious dose experiments with FMDV type O1 Lausanne using the original "Pirbright set-up" although using updated technology ......Two diagnostic methods for very fast, sensitive and specific detection of FMD virus using real time RT-PCR has been submitted, one of them for UK Patent and the other for international patent protection. DEFRA has naturally been granted unrestricted access to testing of samples from the UK using the new assays..."Even on a farm with a lame pig so close to an IP, it seems that precipitate action might have been avoided. Mention of patents does make one consider what the reason might be for the apparent secrecy surrounding the use of rapid diagnosis in the UK . Ironic perhaps then that we were reliably told this week that "the whole portable PCR field will be transformed with very cheap machines that are highly automated within the year".