Labour 'bid to dilute FMD criticism by EU' Dec 12 2002

Left wing members of the European Parliament's foot-and-mouth inquiry team
say its report contained a number of factual errors.

British Labour Euro-MPs, with the support of the Socialist Group, have
tabled eight amendments to remove the alleged mistakes from the text when
the report is voted on by the European Parliament in Strasbourg next

But other members of the inquiry team have accused the British Euro-MPs of
trying to minimise criticism of the UK Government's handling of the epidemic
instead of trying to learn lessons about their handling of the outbreak.

The alleged errors relate to the legality and effectiveness of the
contiguous cull, allegations of animal welfare abuses and biosecurity lapses
which allowed the disease to spread. North East Euro-MP Gordon Adam,
Labour's European spokesman on agriculture and rural affairs and a member of
the inquiry team, said: "The contiguous cull of farms surrounding infected
premises was legal, not only in British law but also in European law. Two
court cases confirm this.

"The Lessons to be Learned Inquiry showed the cull was an essential weapon
in bringing the disease under control. No evidence of disease spread by
improper handling methods was ever proved. No prosecutions were instigated
for animal welfare failures. Labour members want to see these mistakes

The European report, which was published last month, attacks almost every
aspect of the UK Government's handling of the disease.

The report condemns the contiguous cull and puts forward vaccination as a
"first choice option" in the future. It also condemns the Government for a
lack of contingency planning and import controls and also its handling of
the crisis.

Conservative North-East Euro-MP Martin Callanan, also a member of the
inquiry team, said: "I'm very surprised that the Labour MEPs have done this,
especially since the report was written by a socialist raporteur.

"It appears to me that they are not interested in finding out about the
cause of the outbreak or learning how to handle it better in the future but
simply to minimise criticism of their own Government.

"Their behaviour in this inquiry has been shameless. Gordon Adam has spent
all his time trying to rubbish this inquiry in case it embarrassed his
Government. The report was approved by all members except Gordon Adams and
his colleagues."