Nov 11~ (Mr Morley) ........ At the present time, we do not have powers for a fire break cull. There was the three kilometre cull in Cumbria but that was a voluntary cull and people were invited to participate in that.
But at the Select Committee hearing last Tuesday when Mr Morley said this, his memory played him false. The farmers in Cumbria were certainly "invited" to give up their sheep to be killed - but if they refused they received a letter that curtly informed them that MAFF had arbitrarily termed them DCs.. ..."According to our records you were not willing to give up your sheep. This letter is to advise you what arrangements are now being put in place to include your sheep in the cull. In the infected area, sheep, goats and pigs within 3 km of an infected premises will be treated as Dangerous Contacts. This means that the Ministry of Agriculture will make arrangements for your sheep to be slaughtered on the farm." Mr Morley is quite right in saying that MAFF had no powers to impose a firebreak cull, but quite wrong in thinking that they did not therefore impose it.
Below is an article from farmtalking.com which quotes a letter from Defra about the legality of the cull.
A complete disgrace! - by Jane Barribal at farmtalking.com11th November 2001
Extract "In my opinion this (DEFRA) document seems to be an incitement to perjury and as such is a complete disgrace."
I have to admit I found myself reduced to tears at the Remembrance Day service this morning. Not so much in memory of the fallen, but by my memories of the many reports of atrocities committed against farm livestock this year. The Minister took as his theme, 'Remember the dead but care for the living'. I found my thoughts straying to the farming families and pet owners I've come to know, who have been so badly affected.
I also knew that this afternoon I would be compelled to write this article, concerning what is revealed in yet another unsolicited document that I received last evening. The thought of it did nothing to help to stem my tears. I was so sad because it reveals this Government department has a continuing disregard for truth and justice and doesn't seem to care.
Perhaps more than most, I know only too well the increased distress it is likely to cause to those who have suffered so much, as a direct result of the mis-handling of the Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic.
I consider this matter so serious that I include the complete document as it was received. It may be, that the lawyers acting for those who are mentioned may wish to take this matter further. Others that might be considering legal action by Judicial Review, should also be aware of its content, which is as follows: memo
APPEAL AGAINST VALUATION DURING THE 3KM CULL IN CUMBRIA
From: Roy Hathaway
Head, Foot & Mouth Division
Location: Area: 2/02A, 1A Page Street
( : 020 7904 6019 (GTN: 3290)
: 020 7904 6167
: : R.A.Hathawayemail@example.com
Date : 6 November 2001
To: Elliot Morley
cc: Private Offices
Ann Waters (for RODs/DVMs
Ray Anderson - Carlisle
Kate Ward, FMD Briefing Unit
Paul Dray (For Helplines etc)
1. A Judicial Review application (Bindloss) about the appeal procedure by which farmers can dispute the valuation of slaughtered animals in the 3km cull in Cumbria.
3. For information.
4. The Claimant in this case is a Cumbrian farmer involved in the 3km cull. He says he was told by contractors administering the 3km cull for the Department that the cull applied to his animals was voluntary and that he was expressly told he had no right of appeal against the valuation of his animals. Our investigations confirm that the cull in question was the 3km cull announced on 15 March and put into effect some days later in parts of Southern Scotland and Cumbria. As you know, the 3km cull was predicated on the CVO's advice that the animals concerned were exposed to FMD infection. The cull was therefore carried out under the slaughter and compensation provisions of the Animal Health Act 1981. The CVO swore a witness statement to this effect in a separate judicial review case in March (Kindersley) which the Department won. Locally, however, in Cumbria, the 3km cull was referred to as "voluntary" in part because those farmers who cooperated with it had their animals taken first.
5. Subsequent investigations have shown that the term "voluntary" was widely used in Cumbria to describe the 3km cull and appeared on official documents, including the valuation forms used by the firm (Penrith Farmers' and Kidd's plc - PFK) contracted by DEFRA locally to administer the slaughter policy. Representatives of that firm have confirmed to us that they believed the cull was voluntary and that farmers were therefore not entitled to dispute their valuations; and that they specifically told Bindloss that he had no right to dispute his valuation. This is incorrect; under the 1981 Act and subordinate legislation, farmers have 14 days to appeal against valuations.
6. We have been advised by Counsel not to contest this case, since the Court would doubtless conclude from the evidence that the claimant had been denied his right to appeal against his valuation as a result of the way the 3km cull policy was presented and applied in Cumbria.
7. Settling the case will mean the Department will have to pay any legal costs incurred by the claimant. At this stage we do not think they will be substantial. However, we anticipate that other farmers affected by the 3km cull in Cumbria may argue that they too were advised that they could not dispute their valuation and may notify the Department that they wish to be allowed to dispute their valuation outside the normal 14 day limit.
Action being taken
8. This note is being copied to Communications Directorate, the Helplines and to DVMs/RODs. It is important that all understand the true legal status of the 3km cull under the Animal Health Act 1981.
9. The Department is separately defending another claim (Messrs Dockeray) submitted for Judicial Review which challenges the 14 day appeal period. In this case the farmer appealed after the 14-day time limit and the Department turned down the appeal as out of time. However, the facts and circumstances of these two cases are completely different because the case of Dockeray does not involve the Cumbria 3km cull. We will be defending this separate case strongly and we will let Ministers know the outcome as soon as it is known.
Head, Foot and Mouth Division
NB. I would like to point out that the claim the department 'won' the Kindersley case in March is false.
In my opinion this document seems to be an incitement to perjury and as such is a complete disgrace.
Jane Barribal - Farmtalking.com