22 February 2002-02-22

In this article from the Westmorland Gazette reports that Elliot Morley confessed to David Maclean MP that farmers had been lied to.

DEFRA minister Elliot Morley has confessed to a Cumbria MP that the infamous 3km cull was compulsory and that farmers should have had the right of appeal.

Mr Morley has written to David MacLean, MP for Penrith and the Border, saying: 'Some owners of animals subject to the 3km Cumbrian cull on grounds of FMD may have been informed that there animals were culled on a voluntary basis ... they may,,also have been informed that they had no right to dispute the valuation of their animals ... the Department considers that all such culls, carried out under the supervision of its officials, were in fact compulsory and that in all such cases there was a right to dispute their valuation within 14 days.'

Around 500,000 sheep were slaughtered under the "voluntary" cull which sought to contain the virus by slaughtering animals in a three-kilometre 'firebreak' around infected premises in Cumbria.

Mr Morley is writing to all farmers affected by the voluntary cull inviting them to appeal against the valuations of their stock by April 22. Any farmers involved in the 3km cull who do not receive Mr Morley's letter should contact DEFRA.

Mr MacLean said the minister's confession was further evidence that a full public inquiry was needed to get to the bottom of the "scandal of the handling of foot-and-mouth and the pack of lies farmers have been told by ministers from day one. ,"This announcement has been sneaked out in a letter to me with no announcement in Parliament and not a single word of apology," he said.