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IT STINKS

By Gary Jones

Thisshocking scene was shot at the farm blamed for the devastating foot and mouth outbreak - just weeks after Government inspectors gave it a clean bill of heath.

A dog tugs on a dead animal lying on a mound of rotting flesh in the disturbing video. It also shows pigs stricken by the disease lying in broken pens, piles of bones, smouldering rubbish and bins of unprocessed food.

Experts and MPs last night called for a probe into why government vet Jim Dring renewed farmer Bobby Waugh's licence despite the disgusting conditions when he visited in February 2001 - shortly before the 8billion outbreak.

Lib-Dem agriculture spokesman Andrew George said: "I am shocked by the video and the conditions on the farm. The pressure for opening the file on this issue is now overwhelming."

Country Land and Business Association legal chief Chris Price added: "This provides crucial evidence the Government, through its agent Jim Dring, was negligent.

"Certificates for this farm to continue feeding should never have been issued. It appears no proper investigation into the events has been carried out and this video seems to confirm it."

Shadow agriculture minister James Paice said the Government was "guilty of professional negligence" over the renewal.

And National Farmers' Union vice president Meurig Raymond added: "I find it distressing that anyone should keep stock in those conditions.

"We could be convinced of the need for a public inquiry but we would need to take legal advice."

On the newly-uncovered video - obtained by Farmers Weekly magazine - two trading standards officers are seen inspecting Waugh's Burnside pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, four days after the foot and mouth crisis gripped Britain.

Tring has told an inquiry into the crippling epidemic that it "would never have come about" if his inspection of the farm where it started had been better.

Ministers have repeatedly denied the Government is to blame for the outbreak because its vet failed to take appropriate action against Waugh.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "There is no new information in the video that was not available at the time and a further inquiry would serve no useful purpose.

"Defra maintains the origin of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreaks was unprocessed waste food fed to pigs on Burnside Farm.

"The fact that conditions on the farm had deteriorated after was the fault of Robert Waugh and he was successfully prosecuted for the offences he committed."

The epidemic began in February 2001 and lasted until the following September. About six million animals had to be culled. Compensation is being demanded by the 62 farmers who who lost their livelihoods when swill feeding was banned that year.

The food and tourist industries were also badly hit.