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Mitchells’ £100,000 foot and mouth claim

A Cumbrian livestock mart is claiming that Defra owes it more than £100,000 in unpaid foot and mouth fees.

Mitchells, of Cockermouth, is suing the Government for £119,000 including interest accrued since the 2001 crisis.

Livestock director Adam Day spent more than four hours giving evidence for the mart yesterday on the first day of a six-day trial, which began yesterday at Manchester High Court.

He was accused by Defra barrister Lesley Anderson of “reinterpreting the facts” and writing a book about the foot and mouth crisis to influence a court case.

Mitchells claims that Defra, then called MAFF, promised to pay the mart up to £1,500 for valuations of sheep flocks condemned as part of the cull in Cumbria.

The company conducted 450 valuations over 92 days only to then be told it would receive up to £1,500 per day and not per valuation.

Miss Anderson said Mr Day knew through the grapevine early on in the crisis that valuers would get a daily rate. She added that national rates had been agreed through the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, of which Mr Day was a member.

Mr Day, who carried out up to seven valuations a day said that it had been impossible to get confirmation on the rates from the department at the height of the crisis. He said: “As a valuer, with foot and mouth raging, my only thought was to get the job done – I did not think about the rates at the time.”

Mr Day was questioned about his book To Bid Them Farewell: A Foot & Mouth Diary. Miss Anderson said it had been written for the purposes of the trial.

He said: “It was not. I hoped people would be interested to read it.”