(This page is something of an amalgam of contributions from various people, including extracts from warmwell pages, comment by Alan Beat and a vet who preferred not to be named.)
The Small World of Sir John Krebs and Professor Anderson
"Roy Anderson should be called - not the Professor of Epidemiology - but the
Professor of Extermination at Imperial College, London. I understand that he is now rapidly revising his model and has come to the conclusion that the virus travels no more than 500 metres. Too many animals have been killed in the name of elections and mathematics"
Roger Windsor at the RCVS Council Meeting on June 6th 2001
"......... but how did Professor Anderson manage to become such a dominant figure with respect to FMD cull policy?
The evidence suggests he had 'help' from Sir Robert May (President of the Royal Society and previous Govt Chief Scientist), Sir John Krebs (Head of the Food Standards Agency and well known enthusiast for GM) and Prof David King (Chief Scientist).
All 4 are Fellows of the Royal Society - which appears to operate as a kind of scientific Freemasonry - and May, Krebs and Anderson were all Professors in the same Department of Oxford University prior to the Anderson scandals that led Anderson and large numbers of 'hangers on' to decamp to Imperial College last year.
May and Krebs receive(d) Royal Society Research Professorships. Anderson and Krebs are widely seen as May's protegés, and King almost certainly owes his position as Chief Scientist to May, as does Krebs with respect to his appointment as Head of the Food Standards Agency.
A tangled web
a brief summary of what is conjectured :
Professor Anderson, discredited by two different scandals at Oxford University, can't be appointed to the post awaiting him of Chief Scientific Officer to the government, so Professor King, another member of the "inner circle", is appointed instead.
Anderson decamps to Imperial College while the fuss surrounding a damaging scandal dies down.
When FMD breaks he sees an opportunity to regain status and image.
Though not invited to "model" the outbreak, he does so and elbows his way into the process. (see anderson.htm )
With help from the "inner circle" he quickly sidelines the opposition and emerges as the leading exponent.
He has no specialist knowledge of FMD and makes significant errors in the original assumptions for his computer modelling team, hence the divergence of his predictions from the real epidemic - but these are consistently covered up by the "inner circle".
Result - fame and favour for Anderson, the previous scandals buried in the past.
The mass slaughter policy was actually a "career move" for Anderson, orchestrated by an elite clique at the very top of the scientific establishment.
Here's documentary evidence of the Krebs connection and more circumstantial evidence: http://www.maff.gov.uk/inf/newsrel/2001/010323a.htm The Ministry of Agriculture and the Food Standards Agency held a joint meeting on 21 March to receive urgent advice from independent expert epidemiologists. Jim Scudamore (Chief Veterinary Officer), Sir John Krebs (Chairman FSA) and Professor David King (Chief Scientific Adviser) heard reports from Neil Ferguson and colleagues (Imperial College) Mark Woolhouse (University of Edinburgh) and opinions from experts at the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency. The models and analysis use data recorded by MAFF up to 19 March 2001. A brief summary of the available findings is attached; Imperial plan to publish shortly................
What you might ask was Krebs/FSA doing at such a meeting? Does FMD modelling have anything to do with food safety?
No of course not - he was there to ensure things went smoothly for Anderson and to ensure that the CVO stayed 'on side'.
Does one see any evidence of the supposed modelling team from Cambridge University - mentioned several times by King?
Therre is, however, evidence of a CVL/VLA (Veterinary Laboratories Agency) modelling team that we've not heard of since - this team headed by Prof John Wilesmith - Head of the CVL/VLA Epidemiology Unit - was using a well regarded well established FMD model (InterSpread) from Massey University's Epicentre in New Zealand (http://epicentre.massey.ac.nz/).
The Massey group sent two people over to help with the modelling work.
The Anderson and Wilesmith/CVL-VLA 'groups' have little love lost between them, dating back to a big row in the 'heydays' of BSE.
We are reliably informed that when MAFF commissioned FMD modelling studies they did NOT commission work from Anderson's team at Imperial - but Anderson et al did their own FMD modelling studies independently funded (partly by the Royal Society and also by the Wellcome Trust) which they then 'brought to the attention of' Prof King - possibly 'aided' by May and Krebs - who was 'impressed' and invited then onto his Science Group.
This raises the interesting question of where Anderson et al got the data to drive their model - I just don't belive that given past history that Wilesmith/CVL-VLA (who collated the data) would have given it to Anderson et al unless the Imperial team had been officially commissioned to do FMD modelling studies - which they were not.
Two possibilities come to mind a) they initially used data from the 67/68 epidemic and not the 2001 epidemic and/or b) Prof Mark Woolhouse - another non-vet biomathematician - who led the 'independent' Edinburgh modelling team gave (leaked) the 2001 epidemic data to Anderson et al for their unofficial modelling studies. This is quite possible since Woollhouse used to work with Anderson at Oxford, and is known to be something of a 'fan', and Woolhouse still defends the 12/48 culling policies.
It may be that Mark Woolhouse did not have an independent prediction model of his own but used the Anderson (Imperial) team's model. If true this makes a mockery of the often vaunted claim of there having been 3 (or sometimes 4) independent modelling teams - it could well be that there were only ever 2 truly independent modelling teams - the Wilesmith/CVL-VLA/Massey team and the (initially unofficial) Anderson et al (imperial) team.
Anderson et al still had a problem - to become predominant they needed to get rid of the Wilesmith/CVL-VLA/NZ modelling team, and to 'sideline' Dr Alex Donaldson and Dr Paul Kitching from the IAH Pirbright (who would have naturally 'sided' with Wilesmith/CVL-VLA/NZ team) and who as we know have been very critical of the Anderson modelling work and the cull policies that arose from it..
At some point - after the meeting mentioned above perhaps - the CVL/VLA/Massey team was instructed (by MAFF/Govt?) to stop their modelling work.
The NZ group then went home. If one goes to the Epicentre web site - http://epicentre.massey.ac.nz/ - there's a link to a 'Links' page - on this 'Links' page there's a link to 'UK FMD Outbreak 2001 - Interspread Predictions ' - http://epicentre.massey.ac.nz/AHE/economics_exercises/html/Fmd.htm - However.... It's a 'dead' link.
If Prof Anderson et al 'engineered' or 'leveraged' their way to become the predominant advisors with respect to cull policies it is entirely logical that they should all be saying the things they are now saying. .....such as
1. There was no alternative.
2. Had there been any other way we'd have taken it.
3. Any other policy would have prolonged the epidemic.
4. Any other policy would have resulted in more animals being killed in the end.
5. The scientists were unanimous about the need for the 12/48 hour cull policies.
6. Dr Donaldson's and Dr Paul Kitching's (IAH Pirbright) comments and criticisms were fully accounted for in the Anderson et al model.
7. CVL-VLA had no experience of or expertise in modelling. etc. etc.
David Shannon's recent revelations also undermine any claim that Govt/MAFF acted on 'the best scientific advice', and rather demolishes Govt/MAFF/King claims that all the scientists were unanimous about need for 12/48 hour cull policies (which of course has already been denied by Donaldson and Kitching).
The Ferguson, Donnelly, Anderson (Imperial College Modelling team headed by Anderson) paper that describes their deeply flawed' model - that resulted in the 12/48 cull policies - is' entitled The foot-and-mouth epidemic in Great Britain: pattern of spread and impact of interventions.It was published on line by Science Express 12th April. In the References and Notes section one finds the following in item (20):
"We thank Sir Robert May for valuable advice and discussions, and 3 anonymous referees for comments."
John Krebs was chief executive of one of the conservation/environment bodies, before doing a report on TB in cattle and badgers for MAFF that was so fudged and vague that another academic luminary had to dig him out. The reward for Krebs - a knighthood and chief exec of the newly formed Food Standards Agency. And so it goes on
Anderson was on the Krebs Committee which produced the TB and badgers report. He's also on SEAC which is now jointly 'adminstered' by the Dept of Health and the FSA -
It is indeed a small world
Also Dr Christl Donnelly - of Anderson, Ferguson and Donnelly 'fame' - is on the independent TB science group set up on recommendation of Krebs committee to oversee further research and the badger culling trials -
Anderson of course sought to 'leverage' his way into becoming predominant in the FMD science/modelling/policy 'scene' in this epidemic - with a little help from his friends -once it was clear that the FMD epidemic would be a 'big thing' , because he saw it as a golden opportunity to 'rehabilitate' himself after the Oxford scandals, enhance his 'fame/status', and to get the knighthood he is said to crave - he may yet get one! Pity he and his team - Ferguson and Donnelly - so messed up the FMD modelling.
Extract from Private Eye "...Blair's favourite academic, Prof Roy Anderson.., who created the computer model used by MAFF to claim that the number of foot and mouth cases would fall to zero by 7 June, thus allowing the PM to call an electionfor that very date........Back in 1987 Anderson was invited by norway's PM, Brundtland, to help produce an "independent assessment" of how many minke whales Norwegians could sustainably kill every year......The IWC had introduced a moratorium.....Brundtland feared would lose her support... Surprise, surprise...Anderson etc came up with exactly the figure - 200 whales - which the whalers thought thye needed to make a profit. ....... A mathematical biologist on the IWC's scientific committee went through the algebra and discovered "fundamental flaws in the methodology": Anderson and his chums had achieved the result Brundtland wanted, ie a "safe" catch of 200, only by creating wholly unreal (indeed "impossible") parameters........." I've left some gaps, but that is the gist of it. The more I hear of that man, the more unpleasant he seems.
Having read all this on warmwell, Alan Beat commented: "We read all this carefully and several things that had been puzzling us suddenly fell into place. For instance, do you remember Jim Scudamore being so prominent in the media for the first few weeks of the outbreak, then disappearing overnight to be replaced by King? We knew King was not qualified in veterinary science and wondered about this at the time. Then there were the rumblings of discontent coming out from Pirbright via Paul Kitching/Alex Donaldson which finally culminated in Kitching leaving his post for Canada (at the peak of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in his FMD speciality, for heaven's sake) and Donaldson's outburst in the Veterinary Record of May 12th that was clearly as far as he could go whilst keeping his job. On top of this have been the strange and unfounded statements being made by King that are at variance with the facts of the epidemic, in contrast to what we would expect of an impartial scientist.
Intrigued by all this, we rang Andrew (name supplied) , the author of most of the above, to find out more. Andrew is trained in veterinary science and has worked for the last ten years or so in epidemiology. We spoke at length on the 'phone and he explained many further intricacies of the situation. Some of the evidence linking these men is circumstantial but much of it is in the public domain and can be found on websites or in the archives of newspapers and scientific journals. Andrew also has access to "insider" information through his own work to supplement these sources.
We asked him about the "Oxford scandals" that temporarily halted Anderson's career. Anderson received financial backing from the Welcome Foundation alongside his university post at the centre for zoology. There were breaches of financial rules involving transfer of funds that were investigated by a university inquiry and by a firm of city accountants. The reports were supressed and the impression floated that lax accounting procedures were to blame rather than personal wrongdoing. But at the same time there were allegations concerning a female employee in Anderson's department. He tried to prevent her appointment, obstructed her work and circulated false rumours about her relationship with another member of staff. Eventually he was forced to "resign" his chair and leave Oxford.
He transferred to Imperial College along with 20 or more of his entourage, all of whom were also funded by Welcome so could move without any problem. A new department was set up around Anderson to accommodate these new faces. All this happened only last year.
Krebs and May both hold Royal Society professorships at Oxford (as did Anderson before his disgrace). May was previously Chief Scientific Officer and it was widely thought that Anderson would succeed him, but when the scandal made this impossible, King got the job instead. May is regarded as a "fixer" and is thought to have "placed" Krebs into the FSA top job.
Where did King appear from? Once upon a time he was Prof. of chemistry at Liverpool university (a backwater) but then he joined the Royal Society. To join, you have to be invited by 6 nominees, so it is a "closed" society unless your face fits, and it operates along "freemason" lines. Lo and behold, in 1998 King becomes head of chemistry at Cambridge university and Master of a college - quite a step up - and in no time at all, Chief Scientific Officer. He is (obviously) a chemist and has no veterinary science background.
We also asked about the BSE disagreement touched on above. To cut a long story short, Wilesmith and his team were "discredited" by Anderson et al who got hold of the data uninvited and dug around until they "discovered" the answer - sound familiar? He did a similar thing on HIV/Aids. He looks around for the main chance then tries to undermine the established ideas. Wilesmith's team worked closely with Pirbright staff and Anderson had made enemies of these over his antics with BSE.
Back to FMD and the advisory group chaired by King. Anderson was "invited" to the meeting on 21st March as minuted above, without official access at this stage to MAFF data remember, yet within two days his "model" was announced as official policy! While he undoubtedly has expertise in computer modelling and epidemiology, he lacked the necessary knowledge of FMD to describe the parameters of his model, and it is most unlikely that he had any input from the Wilesmith team (with Donaldson/Kitching etc) because of the BSE hangover. His basic assumptions were flawed, with the result that his model over-estimated the size of the epidemic. Put rubbish in, get rubbish out.
There was broad agreement across the committee that more needed to be done, at that stage, to control the epidemic. It was well-established that movement restrictions, and that killing infected animals as quickly as possible, were the two most important factors by far, so the 24 hour cull was not contentious. What was new - entirely new - was the idea of the 48 hour contiguous culls and the firebreak culls. These had never been used before, but the modellers put these into their computers and came up with predictions. No data existed to validate these forecasts. And even Anderson's flawed model did not justify a 3 km firebreak cull, his predictions showing no difference between 2 km and 3 km distances - although of course 55% more animals would be slaughtered at the 3 km distance. The politicians must have decided to take no chances anyway.
We now know from Donaldson that Anderson's team modelled a hypothetical "species" with assumed levels of susceptibility to airborne transmission, neither of which had any basis in veterinary science.
King constantly assures us that the decline in the epidemic is the result of the control measures applied, quoting the ratio of new cases arising from each disease outbreak (which needs to be less than one for the epidemic to decline). In fact, retrospective analysis of data shows that the ratio had dropped below one before the new 24/48 hour policy was even applied, just as many others had argued that it would. The movement ban/24 hour killing of infected animals has produced this result many times before in previous epidemics. The additional new measures were just tinkering at the edges, making negligible impact on the course of the epidemic but resulting in the additional slaughter of huge numbers of animals.
We also asked Andrew about the role of sheep in the current epidemic and their supposed virus-shedding/re-infection of cattle. He said that there is no evidence so far from the serological test results of any widespread infection in sheep, even in the Settle area where this is claimed to be the cause of the "cluster". The evidence is that movements of animals, personnel and equipment have caused the spread from an initial source, which is the usual pattern for FMD.
Andrew came across as someone who does not make such claims lightly. He has looked into these matters carefully over a period of time and cross-checked with "insiders". He has doubted his own conclusions until very recently but is now convinced that they are broadly correct. But as he put it, why should anyone believe him - an "unknown" - against the might of the scientific establishment?
We would answer that in this way. Anyone who has worked in industry, academia or indeed any employment with a hierarchical structure will recognise all too well the human failings, favouritism and corruption that he describes. It pervades all organised human society and becomes more concentrated the higher up the ladder that you look.
It fits the known facts and seems perfectly believable to us."