"Yes, I was there and yes, Gill was challenged... Dr Lucas had a go at him. However, as always, the structure of the hearing defeated any real attempt at searching questioning. There were four speakers, Lord Whitty, Ben Gill, Guy Thomas Everard and Alan Richardson. Owing to the lack of space up on the podium, the Chair - the egregious Mme Rodondo - her secretariat, the three vice presidents plus Whitty and - although he was not booked until the second session - Morley - sat up front.
Gill, Everard and Richardson sat in the audience near the front, so we could only see the backs of them (from our vantage point). After Whitty, Gill delivered his fixed monologue and only after all speakers had given forth were questions allowed from the floor. As before, Mrs Rodondo took questions in blocks, addressed to all the speakers - with as many as ten questions being asked before answers were invited.
Thus, there was no direct (one to one) questioning of individual speakers, and no confrontation, as such. Questions had to be directed to the "Chair" and Whitty and Morley were allowed first pick. Then Gill was politely asked to comment, as and when he chose.
Within that mishmash, there could be no continuity and, with the best will in the world, even a willing witness would have found it difficulty to remember all the questions that had been asked in each block. With a wily, evasive creature such as Gill, he could "cherry pick", with plenty of time to think of an answer. There was no way that anything serious was going to come out of this mess.
Worst of all - but hardly unexpected - was Whitty4s willingness to engage in brazen lying. He denied that the veterinary service had been cut back since the 1967 epidemic, claiming that there had been "reallocations", but numbers were broadly the same. On the contiguous cull, he claimed that not only had it been legal, but it had been tested in the UK courts.
But these lies were tucked in with the rest of the answers, so it was difficult for MEPs to mount a direct challenge, and the few supplementaries allowed came come time afterwards, leading to a curious sense of detachment.
Basically, however, the central fault of the committee structure is that it is not designed to allow searching questioning. And when witnesses are prepared to lie and evade, there is really no mechanism for dealing with them.
I walked out half way through the session, before Morley gave his dissertation. I could not see any value in wasting my time giving this man a hearing.
And, to cap it all, we are no told that there will be no transcripts of the hearings, so we cannot evaluate the testimony. For all the high hopes of this inquiry (those that had them), this is turning out to be a cruel, ineffectual joke."