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June 30/31 2008 ~ Mitchells of Cockermouth is suing Defra for more than £100,000 owed from 2001
Many will recall that one of the many miseries of 2001 was the refusal of DEFRA to settle bills from the contractors who had worked so hard for them during the crisis. Many of the smaller firms who could not meet the costs of taking legal action accepted ridiculously low payments or simply gave up. (relevant pages).
In 2004 JDM Accord was eventually paid the remaining £5m of the £7m cost of creating a burial pit at Ash Moor (it was never used and it cost taxpayers a further £3 million to fill it in again.) In its reluctance to make full payment to the many firms involved, DEFRA spoke of widespread "fraud" - although in the end, of 1,200 cases investigated, the National Audit Office found that only 18 involved allegations of fraud, and six of those had already been dismissed by 2004. (See Bookers Notebook for January 2004 )
The auction mart,
Mitchells, carried out livestock valuations in 2001. Ever since, they have
been in dispute with DEFRA over the level of payment due for this work. Now, seven years later, they will finally take their case to Manchester High Court to try to resolve it.
Peter McLoughlin of solicitors McLoughlin and Company LLP, also won a high profile case against Defra. The Forum of Private Businesses worked tirelessly for its members and quoted him at the height of the 2007 Surrey outbreak when several firms were still waiting for payment from six years earlier
"Any contractor or farmer undertaking work in relation to the present outbreak should exercise care in ensuring clarity in their dealings with Defra. ... they may run a similar risk in being involved in protracted disputes many years down the line." (FPB site)
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