"I think in exposing the illegal, sometimes barbaric and ineffective policy evoked by the Government, then probably I was a bit of a nuisance, but I never prevented DEFRA personnel carrying out their duties," said Green.

COURT TOLD OF DEFRA'S CULTURE OF "BULLYING BEHAVIOUR"

15 Dec 2001 The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald

A man who gathered evidence about the controversial cull of animals during the foot and mouth crisis, which he hoped to present to a public inquiry, came up against a culture of "bullying behaviour" among DEFRA officials, a court heard.

Nicholas Leslie Green, (49), Gatesgarth, Somerwood Close, Long Marton, denied driving without reasonable consideration at Rosgill, Shap, when he appeared before Eden magistrates, sitting at Penrith, on Wednesday.

It was alleged that he drove a car at DEFRA field officer Linda Brown while she was standing at the side of the road, causing her to jump out of the way. He was found guilty and was fined £250, plus £263 costs.

Mr David Dunk, prosecuting, said DEFRA officials were at Rosgill Hall on 20 July while animals at the premises were slaughtered as part of the measures to control the spread of FMD.

In the evening, Green, who was driving a Skoda, arrived at a farm in a "dangerous" manner. Mrs Elizabeth Jesting, a DEFRA field officer at the scene, said Green drove too quickly and too close to Mrs Brown, who had overall charge of the site.

Green, who was held up by a flat back wagon which was disinfecting the road, then spoke to David Sampson, a DEFRA field officer who was at gate duty at the farm. He apologised to Green for the delay, and during the conversation Green expressed views about the Prime Minister and the way the FMD outbreak had been handled.

The court heard that DEFRA staff had been given a memorandum to "avoid Green at all costs". They were given instructions not to get involved in a conversation with him and move him on if that was appropriate.

Mrs Brown, who has been with the Ministry for 32 years, said that Green was asked to leave the area and go home, but he started laughing and said he had got all the information he needed. He reversed the car back up the hill and then drove it straight towards her at 20 mph.

"I was frightened, I thought he was going to hit me. I jumped to the side onto the grass verge. He actually physically turned his wheel and drove at me, " said Mrs Brown.

"He has certainly been a bit of a nuisance during the months of foot and mouth. DEFRA staff and field officers were doing a job that none of us like. He appears on sites and hassles field officers."

Mr Geyve Walker, defending, said in croos-examination: "There is a culture of dishonesty and threatening behaviour in the Ministry."

He said that Mrs Brown's conduct on the road side was calculated to threaten Mr Green.

Mrs Brown denied there was a culture of dishonesty and bullying in DEFRA. "I am telling the truth, I am not in the habit of lying, " she said.

Green, who served for 24 years in the armed forces and is currently a freelance outdoor instructor, said in evidence that he had taken an interest in the actions of DEFRA and the "flawed" cull policy which, he said, was ineffective and illegal.

TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS

He took photographs and made notes, but he never got in anybody's way while gathering information for what he hoped would be a public inquiry into the crisis.

"I think in exposing the illegal, sometimes barbaric and ineffective policy evoked by the Government, then probably I was a bit of a nuisance, but I never prevented DEFRA personnel carrying out their duties," said Green.

On the night in question he was going to see his friend, Tom Lowther. He did not see any road closed signs. Mrs Brown was not polite and was threatening to have him removed. He denied pointing his vehicle at her and driving at her, saying he did not go above 15 mph.

"As far as I am concerned I did not point at anyone, but I did pull in at one point. I was not driving excessively," said Green.

He said that DEFRA officials were using bullying tactics that they had used before on him. In the past officials had threatened him with a pickaxe, threatened to break his camera and throw disinfectant over him.

"POLICY OF HARASSMENT"

Viscount Hugh Lowther, Towcett House, Towcett, Newby, gave evidence that on one occasion DEFRA officials had tried to drag him out of his car, which was parked on the side of a public road, when he was videoing cattle running around being pursued by a vehicle and men with a shotgun.

Defending solicitor Mr Walker said: "My client is the victim of a policy of harassment and threats by DEFRA staff. There is a concerted policy of harassing private individuals by DEFRA field officers."

"There is an attitude of dishonesty that goes high up and a culture in that department that we all ought to be having serious concerns about."

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Elaine's notes to above:

Witness's correct name is Elizabeth Jestin. The contiguous contact farm involved was Rosgill Head Farm and not Rosgill Hall, which is further along in the hamlet and was an IP some while before. There was some confusion about the name of the farm throughout the appeal hearing too but it was irrelevant to the proceedings. Viscount Lowther's evidence was considered inadmissable at the appeal hearing and not allowed to be given in court.