Inquiries may be addressed to Mary Critchley at warmwell


"This website has served as a rapier, puncturing the bladder of Government obfuscation, by publishing a highly informed, topical digest of news..." Country Life editorial

Mary Critchley

"So there you have it: the research, it seems, was wrong, the science was outdated, the slaughter unnecessary, the policy unethical, and the strategy ineffective. Apart from that, things seem to have been just fine. " Magnus Linklater April 26 2001

"...'normal' will never mean the same again after we turned to our ministry for help and were rewarded with inefficiency, appalling and ignorant ministry vets, inept, bungling soldiery and slow, draconian, insensitive bureaucracy."

"Some of the worst bits of decision-making that I have seen in my six years as an MP have been due to speed. I think the worst case of all was the Foot and Mouth epidemic. Everything happens very fast: it is in the run-up to a General Election, there is a lot of evidence out there, people have done studies about vaccination versus mass culling, but there just is not the time. It is about who gets to the Prime Minister's ear first and how you respond to tomorrow's headlines. As a result some awful decisions were made and it cost billions of pounds. .." Dr Vincent Cable MP from a transcript of a talk at ODI 7th May 2003

From Private Eye - August 17-30 2007

" If the media in general floundered in their attempts to understand what was going on, at least one comprehensive source of information has been available to anyone wanting to follow in detail the convolutions of this latest episode. One of the few bright spots of that dark time in 2001 was the website www.warmwell.com , run from near Bordeaux by an expatriate English teacher, Mary Critchley. Within weeks she had established warmwell as the most reliable clearing-house for expert information on the FMD crisis, and miraculously, having made contact with all the most authoritative scientists in the field, she has remained in business ever since. Yet again in recent days, Miss Critchley has been working overtime, telling us a great deal more than we learn from the BBC."



Filed 07 Feb 2006 )www.land-care.org.uk Editorial

"Readers of www.land-care.org.uk are encouraged to read www.warmwell.com, which has done so much over the years for the cause of applying good science to major health problems that threaten our nation's livestock...."

From a seminar paper, Stockholm Conference 2002

Warmwell.com - "The site is text only and is organized on a day to day basis... It was and is a tool of public information that addresses or rather services a massive debate beginning in Britain...."

P.B Stone former Senior Information Advisor to the Secretary General of UNCHE (United Nations Conference on the Human Environment)

From Country Life - Dec 19th 2002 - Editorial

"Anyone who has wanted up-to-the-minute, authoritative information on the foot-and-mouth outbreak, in all its administrative chaos and rural horror, could find it at the click of a mouse, by visiting http://www.warmwell.com ..."


Sunday Telegraph 04/11/2001 - Booker's Notebook


"Several regular websites proved useful, but for thousands trying to follow this crisis, easily the most valuable, by posting a complete daily press summary, scientific and veterinary papers and all kinds of other data, has been www.warmwell.com


Countryside Alliance

" warmwell.com ..an amazing labour of love...It has an extraordinarily complete, very up-to-date 'library' of daily news cuttings, reports, inquiry submissions and visits, Hansard speeches, letters from individuals, etc, etc" "..an invigorating and bold adventure.."


"The Government must listen to the specialists"

The Times September 25 2007 letter from Dr Colin Fink. Extract:
    ".....once again the handling of this infection has been an illustration of a woeful lack of understanding within Defra of viral disease....If we had started a thorough ring vaccination programme on August 10, when the onset of infection in the second affected herd was obviously so sudden that a large amount of virus was now within the countryside, the outbreaks in other herds would not have occurred. ... It is quite extraordinary to report that there are no virologists within Defra. This is contrary to a reply given to the Countess of Mar's question in the House of Lords when the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer (DCVO) replied that there were more than 100.
    There is a lack of understanding within the vet labs' scientists of the mechanisms of clinical containment of viral disease. ... There is a failure to use newer techniques of nucleic acid amplification (RT-PCR) to detect the virus in pre-clinical stages in animals. This is a much more sensitive surveillance than veterinary clinical inspection or the penside crude antigen test that has been made for the Third World which Defra has sanctioned although it is of unverified sensitivity.
    It may be helpful to the Prime Minister's Cobra group to read Mary Critchley's voluntary website warmwell.com, to which a number of us contribute. The group should invite the most informed virologists with clinical experience to join their team and formulate sensible policies to contain this disease.... The British are subscribing to EU rules that virologists and informed vets consider to be ill-informed. It would be better to solve the problem with good science and then lobby for change in Brussels.
    A lack of coherent virological advice from the CVO and DCVO makes matters worse...."
Full text is here. It is important that an expert practising virologist's understanding about vaccination is seen. We also refer people again to the very important paper written for warmwell in 2001 on veterinary vaccination and transmission by FAO expert Dr Keith Sumption back in 2001. In an article on the FAO website, describing the successful vaccination programme in Turkey last year, Dr Sumption says: "FMD is a virus that propagates incredibly quickly -- when it discovers a new niche where there is no immunity among animals, it just rips through them. Europe is FMD free, and animals there aren't vaccinated against it - so they have no immunity."
( Hansard reference)

Please do visit warmwell.com and communicate your views. All emails are answered and the site aims to give a voice to everyone with something to contribute.

Warmwell is an independent website,

set up near the beginning of the Foot and Mouth crisis in 2001, and has been updated nearly every day since. It is unfunded (except that I accepted, in July/August 2005, small donations towards the previous four years' technical webspace costs. ) Warmwell.com has no political or commercial affiliations of any kind. It does, however, provide a platform for ordinary people who have something relevant to say. (Contact by email )

In 2007 Bernard Vallat, the Director General of the OIE www.oie.int: said that the cost of preventing crises is insignificant compared "to the social, economic and environmental cost of disasters resulting from epizootics, such as BSE, foot and mouth disease and highly pathogenic avian influenza."

Two Minute Silence - in 2006, the 5 year anniversary of the infamous Contiguous Cull policy

"In the name of veterinary disease control, we were about to embark on the greatest unnecessary slaughter of healthy animals in the history of our profession. It cost £10 - 12 billion and involved the slaughter of 10 million animals...." Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS, Former President of the RCVS

The 2001 epidemic, often glibly described as the world's worst FMD epidemic, was only the "worst" in terms of costs. Financially, £10-12 billion pounds is a conservative estimate. The numbers of animals and carcasses destroyed was in millions. BUT as far as the number of farms infected is concerned, and number of animals infected, it was a less serious epidemic than the 1967 UK FMD epidemic.

The costs - including an estimated 60 farmer suicides, widespread rural misery and health problems and consequences for the rural economy- were due in large measure to the insistence by MAFF/DEFRA on assuming a centralised control of slaughtering without proper veterinary input (for which the RCVS must surely take some blame for its spineless acquiescence). The cost of the infamous application of computer modelling and the "Contiguous Cull" policy by which all ruminants and pigs on premises (including rare breeds, irreplaceable genetic lines and children's pets) within 3 km of an infected farm were summarily slaughtered - has never been calculated. No acknowledgement of the mistakes made has ever been forthcoming .

Background to FMD policy The UK refusal to accept rapid diagnostic equipment and vaccination. See pages on the technology that should have been used in 2001 - and was not. As many said at the time and continue to say years later,

Its main purpose

as well as providing a daily commentary on matters having a connection with animal health or welfare or legislation from the perspective of an independent onlooker, is to provide an archive of information about the Foot and Mouth epidemic 2001. In particular, the site presents material about FMD papers, research, technology and vaccination and about developments in animal disease control measures. *

Up to 85.6% (over 5 million if one accepts official figures) of the animals slaughtered in the UK 2001 FMD epidemic were not infected nor incubating the disease at the time of slaughter.
There is no evidence to show that the target of slaughter of infected premises within 24 hours of clinical diagnosis was ever achieved.
It is highly likely that delays in slaughter explain why 2001 UK FMD epidemic was not brought under control once movement restrictions and biosecurity measures were imposed.

There has been no public inquiry into the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic and its handling.

We feel this is a mistake since, in spite of the excellent and independent local inquiry in Devon (full report can be seen here (external link), two Royal Society reports and the Anderson Inquiry, there seem to have been few lessons learned. Many of the same people hold the same (or more) influential positions now as then. In spite of its name change and money spent on a new logo - MAFF/DEFRA seems still to be much the same now as it was then.

Dr. Paul Kitching, (still head of the foot-and- mouth division Pirbright at the time of the outbreak but now at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg) said the computer models were based on "a total suspension of common sense." The British government compounded the crisis by following bad advice on how to handle the outbreak. It was heading into an election. It ignored the recommendations of international experts such as Professor Fred Brown and those of its own Animal Health Laboratory at Pirbright and decided to act on the Imperial College computer modellers' predictions that the disease would run out of control for many months.

The UK authorities continue to assert that, in addition to animals infected with FMD and their dangerous contacts, so-called pre-emptive "contiguous" culling during the 2001 FMD crisis was necessary. We still hear the same argument: these animals cannot be termed "healthy" animals, they were very likely to have been incubating the disease.

However, had they really been incubating foot and mouth disease it would have been obvious at the time of slaughter. Delays in slaughter times meant that the disease had time to develop and show clinical signs if it was going to develop at all. But there were no clinical signs in the majority of farms culled.

Many of these pre-emptive culls (40%) took place around "IP"s where no laboratory evidence was found ( Pirbright maintained throughout the epidemic that their laboratory testing was at least 90% accurate. )

The modellers' predictions about likely infection were subsequently found to be very inaccurate. As reported in October 2001 in Nature 4/10/2001 vol 413, when the epidemic data was re-analysed in July, the Imperial team found that the spatial relationship between index cases and secondary infections was not as they had previously believed. They had overestimated the risk of exposure on contiguous farms. It was to prove a tragic and heartbreaking mistake - and one for which there has never been an apology.

"We cannot have a situation again where there is no clear-cut policy on whether and when vaccination is used"

From the Key Recommendations of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee into the 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease

" In the post 9/11 world, we are forced to develop an alternative to depopulation. We simply can not kill livestock faster than terrorists can infect them with FMD virus."

Professor Joe Cummins
( 2005) Four years ago, bewilderment and frustration at tactics used against those trying to defend their rights from a bureaucratic, unscientific and frightening nonsense created warmwell.com.
"This is the real world, not Disney World," sneered an English policewoman who pushed her way into a private house to help slaughter Carolyn Hoffe's five healthy pet sheep in 2001. We were appalled at this "real world". So were many others.

A very angry article about the foot and mouth crisis was published on May 27 2003 in the Western Morning News (See below). It illustrates well how people who suffered are still feeling - and how very far from receding into the past is the experience of FMD 2001.

from warmwell May 28 2003 ~


"Millions of others were unseen, unsung and uncompensated ..." A very angry article about the foot and mouth crisis was published on May 27 in the Western Morning News. It illustrates well how people who suffered are still feeling - and how very far from receding into the past is the experience of FMD 2001. Extract:

From Senseless Slaughter by Emma Tennant

In the foot and mouth crisis of 2001, warmwell's view of what was happening to farm animals and stockholders was very different from what the official line was trying to present. We considered it a national catastrophe. More than four years on, with no official apology and no genuine public enquiry, we have become interested in many linked issues.

Domestic violence, road rage, binge drinking and disillusionment are the symptoms of a deeper illness. Global warfare, some of it carried out in our name and in the name of "democracy", is a sign of the insanity that abounds today. Politics has invaded people's lives - and most people feel so powerless that there is, understandably, less and less interest in politics. Terrorism is a vicious circle of violence and fear in which the underlyng issues of poverty, frustration and powerlessness have become forgotten and remain unaddressed.

George Orwell's 1945 essay on empire and nationalism rings very true today :

It is tempting to feel despair and set about cultivating one's garden. But the often quoted saying by Edmund Burke is haunting: " All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Aug 21 2004 ~ An email following Roger's..." I didn't think FMD and what we all went through could still make me cry... then I read Roger's e - mail... he is right, so many people still do not realise the horror we were subjected to. I still find myself talking to people who had no idea, but there does seem to be a greater willingness to listen and understand now that Blair has been exposed ... through the Iraq debacle."

Aug 21 ~ "I am so sorry. I didn't know what was going on... we thought that you'd gone mad." When asked why we continue to "bang on about" foot and mouth 2001, I suggest directing the questionner to Roger's email here.

Can warmwell.com keep going?