RESPONSES TO ELLIOT MORLEY'S LETTER DATED 16TH JULY 2002.
In almost every report (including the Northumberland report) there has been opposition to the mediaeval slaughter only policy and a demand for vaccination. The nonsense spouted by this Government and its so-called advisors on vaccination simply flies in the face of the facts. The fact that an identical virus* has hit several countries before and since the disaster in Gt. Britain together with the fact that they controlled the outbreak with a suitable, quality vaccine is being air-brushed from the debate; - as is the FACT we eat tens of thousands of tonnes of imported vaccinated meat from non-EU countries (71,662 tonnes from Brazil at year end 2000.
The outstanding fact was that MAFF failed to implement controls on the spread of the disease early enough. In those crucial first days they failed to take proper, educated, scientific advice but relied on inappropriate information coming from scientists who lacked Foot & Mouth disease control experience and were ignorant about the epidemiology of FMD thus turned a serious problem into a disaster unequalled anywhere in the world.
* This, I should observe, differs from the noble Lord Whitty who, in a recent broadcast, indicated that the virus kept changing!
FIT OR UNFIT?
The law is very specific. It was and remains illegal for a healthy animal to be killed. Nobody doubts the fact that infected animals which tested positive should be destroyed and that is enshrined in the over-arching EU Directive 85/511. The other EU Directive which orders EU States not to slaughter on suspicion, or kill healthy animals that are in contiguous farms but have them “placed under surveillance” should a vet suspect FMD is EU Directive 82/894/EEC(2). This too had been totally ignored by a government in a blind panic. As was the million Euros given to Morocco to buy vaccine to vaccinate ALL their susceptible animals (including sheep, Mr. Morley!)
But there is no legal basis for contiguous culling on farms where infection was not proven. MAFF/DEFRA have argued that it had an authority for this mass culling within the Animal Health Act 1981.
The test case of Grunty the pig (Harrison J. 21st. June 2001.) disagreed that this particular law offered a blanket permission to kill animals as a general policy. In other words, a case-by-case assessment based on proven scientific expert testimony. That the government NEVER brought another action nor contested “resistance” to a Contiguous Cull says it all. Vets were forced by Ministry officials to sign Form A's declaring that farms were infected when in reality they were not.
The assertion that the contiguous cull or the 3kms cull were legal is therefore without foundation in English law however it is accepted that Directive 85/511 speaks of protection zones, however, it suggests that slaughter in these zones should be delayed until samples had been taken and infection (or not) confirmed. (See Article 4.1)
The assertion that this matter had been tried and tested in the British Courts is not just incorrect, it is grossly misleading..
FOOT BATHS & DIRTY CARS
The visit of Elliot Morley to Goathland, Yorkshire may not be remembered by Mr. Morley but it was remembered by those who were there and the events borne out by contemporary newspaper articles and comments.
To arrive at an hotel for the launch of a bio security drive, the ministerial car had to traverse a minimum of two miles of common moorland road. It is worth remembering that an outbreak of F&M had just been confirmed 4 miles away at Lealholm and the fact that the meeting was still held indicated a certain disregard for the problems believed to be caused by movements of vehicles and people. This was why, despite NFU requests, many farmers stayed away. It is also worthy of note that the moorland road should have been provided with disinfectant mats as should the village itself.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the Ministerial Nissan parked in the car park (again, no disinfectant mat provided). Having spoken to a small gathering of farmers, Mr. Morley walked away, carefully avoiding a foot bath although local councillors and MPs obligingly used it. He was asked if his vehicle had been disinfected to which he replied “ No, any virus on the wheels would be killed off by the heat of the vehicle's motion” Reliable scientific advice informs us that the virus will be “progressively inactivated by temperatures above 50 degrees Centigrade”. So unless Mr. Morley is driving an F1 car with slick tyres with a track temperature of 45 degrees Centigrade or above, he is being grossly mistaken about his vehicle's potential ability to kill the virus.
It is worthy of note that Mr. Morley previously said “we do not under-estimate the practical difficulties of disinfecting but the message has to be these measures have to be taken because the disease is being spread by muddy vehicles”
Information from Prof. D.C.Ellwood indicates that the virus is not even effectively killed off in a funeral pyre. The virus is, however, destroyed by the hydroxyl radical (OH) in sunlight.
THE PHONE CALL
The remark was passed to another parliamentary colleague whilst he used a 'phone in Mr. Morley's office. I was on the other end of that telephone line. It related to the disease being out of control and stated that MAFF were too.
This is an interesting exercise. Mr. Morley suggests that because I quoted 10 millions as the likely total of dead animals, he is implying the total is only 6 millions. As he says, “Did Mr. Greenhill think farmers didn't bother to claim for 4 million animals”? Ergo: 10-6 = 4 millions. But let me be more specific:-
3.4 million recorded as culled by DEFRA
1.6 million culled under the “welfare” scheme
0.5 million culled under the “light lamb scheme”
4.0 million lambs estimated (This derives from 1.2 lambs per breeding ewe culled and cross-checked with the shortfall in lambs marketed last year, down from 15 million to 11.1 million)
Total sheep = 9.5 million
145,000 recorded as culled by Defra
169,000 culled under the “welfare scheme”
100,000 calves estimated (this is a best guess only)
Total Cattle = 859,000
145,000 recorded as culled by Defra.
287,000 culled under the “welfare scheme”
No piglets allowed for as most pigs were thought to be fattening rather than breeding stock
Total pigs= 432,000
TOTAL SO FAR = 10,791,000
To this must be added the goats and camelids slaughtered and the piglets which cannot now be estimated to reach an overall round-figure total of 11 million deaths. The UK breeding flock was reduced by 13% (in England alone by 18%)
The UK breeding cattle herd was reduced by 6%
These figures originate from the economics department at the Meat & Livestock Commission and after initial denials, have been reluctantly accepted by Defra as accurate.
The disaster was officially brought to an end on 30th. September 2001 – a significant date. This was the second time in disease control history that an outbreak of any kind has been brought to a halt by a specific date (in case it has been forgotten, the other magic date was 7th. June 2001 which dovetailed nicely into the General Election schedule.
Since that date there have been further cases of animal slaughter. Whilst it could be anticipated that there might be the odd 'flare-up', up until 25th. February 2002 from 30th. September 2001 645 farms had been slaughtered out losing a staggering total of 204,446 animals. This information follows the fact that on 1st. January 2002 the figures were still adrift by some 85,000. This was put down in a tv interview as being a 'clerical adjustment'.
I lived in the belief that responses given to Parliament are meant to be factually accurate. Those who give incorrect information are expected to apologise and if proven to be in contempt and wholly misleading, resignation is dutifully expected to follow as the honourable response to the House (at least Stephen Byers thought so). That being the case, how can the following responses from Mr. Morley be justified and not just meant to be totally misleading and a smokescreen of blithering incompetence?
17th. December 2001. The number of vets in the SVS (WTE's) at January 2001 was 286
--same day--- The number of TVI's appointed during the crisis was 2,575
6th. May 2002 (letter to the EU from Lord Whitty) “the number of field vets employed to
fight the disease is 220
8th. April 2002. Having accompanied Lord Whitty to Strasbourg, Elliot Morley saw no reason to correct the Noble Lord's figures?
9th. May 2002 Elliot Morley told the House of Commons that “ at the start of the
outbreak a figure of 1064.4 veterinary, technical and support staff were employed by the Field Service element of the SVS compared to 1247.66 at the end of January 2002. This indicates an increase of 183.26”
14th. May 2002. “SVS veterinarians are supported by approximately 7,832 local TVI's”
As a guide, the NAO Report states: “ 3.35 On the eve of the outbreak there were 213 veterinary officers in the SVS”
The same report states: “By mid April 2001 at the outbreak's height around 1,200 vets and 7,000 administrative and field support staff were engaged in disease eradication”
The report goes on to observe “ In addition to these state vets, the Department was able at the start of the outbreak to call on the services of 117 Temporary Veterinary Inspectors who were already working with the Department”
14th. January 2002. Defra report to the OIE stating: “At the time the FMD epidemic
started the SVS employed 304 (WTE) veterinary staff, 117
Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVI's), 230 animal health officers
and 750 administrative staff”.
The NAO report (para 3.37) states “The veterinary resources available to the department were built up from just over 300 (including TVI's) in late February 2001 to around 1,600 in May 2001”
Is it unreasonable to infer from these figures that neither Elliot Morley nor the Noble Lord Whitty have the vaguest clue of what they are talking about?
And would it be too much to suggest that when the OIE were told that the FMD disaster was over on 30th. September there was no reference at a later date to the 200,000 + animals slaughtered on 645 farms?
The cover-up for all this is to suggest that a suitable vaccine was not and is not available.