"..they must have broken every animal health welfare and animal health rule in the book. "


Over the Gate...

By Jeff Swift

VIEWERS who saw the Country File programme on February 16 may recall being told - among other things - about the Great Orton Burial Site and how it is being made into a landscaped environmental site. We were told that during foot-and-mouth, half a million animals were buried there. Great pits were bulldozed in the ground and lorry load upon lorry load of slaughtered animals was tipped into the huge graves. A ghastly sight.

What you were not told was that hardly any animals, if any at all, had been diagnosed as having the disease. What a waste, and all because some of those in charge panicked.

This cull has to be one of the greatest acts of government maladministration on record. It also means they must have broken every animal health welfare and animal health rule in the book.

I have many times disagreed with the Govern- ment's chief vet, Jim Scudamore, but again on the pretext that I may not be very good but by gosh I'm fair, I must applaud him for something I have only just found out. I discovered that in the Anderson Report of his Lessons Learned Inquiry, that on page 93 Anderson quotes Jim Scudamore as having argued at the time that the Government "probably" had no legal powers to carry out this cull. I don't know what it says to you but it says to me the Government knew it was illegal. But, you've guessed it, the report gave no prominence to this aspect. However, Anderson did return to the point in his recommendations that in future the Government must ensure that it has the legal powers to carry out such a cull. So that's all right then?

Remember me telling you about Agriculture Minister Elliot Morley rushing a bill through Parliament to give it the authority to enter in and slaughter whatever it thought necessary in a future outbreak.

We asked for a full public inquiry. This was refused so now you can see what kind of inquiry we got instead. Anderson also mentioned in his report that he or they favoured the 20-day rule (the one we call draconian and infamous). I was going to say "well he would say that wouldn't he" but I'm not saying that: better I say nowt. Perhaps I may some time be present at a meeting where one of the Government's top spokesmen or women may refer to the Anderson Report, then do you suppose I may ask what they have to say about what Jim Scudamore had to say on page 93? You can bank on it.

A friend of mine reminded me what was said on Country File on February 9 about the new regulations due to come in this April regarding the disposal of dead stock. I'll deal with that next time as it's come brand spanking new out of Brussels.

Dialect word: Scraffle meaning to scramble or climb over slowly.