THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP

An affiliation of organisations affected by 2001 UK epidemic

 

Co-ordinating Office:              3 The Common, Siddington, Cirencester, Glos  GL7 6EY

Tel: 01285 644319 / 01285 656812

 

 

25 July 2002

 

 

For the attention of Mr G Devine

EFRA Select Committee Secretariat

House of Commons, Westminster

 

 

Dear Mr Devine

 

FMD LESSONS LEARNED INQUIRY AND REPORT

 

Further to our telephone conversation and the concerns I expressed re the above we would be very grateful if you could advise us how to proceed, and if you know how the EFRA Select Committee intends to take the matter forward.

 

In the recommendation of the EFRA Select Committee FMD Report says at para 43(a) that the report should be subject to critical analysis and debate, it would be very helpful to know how this is to be carried out.

 

As we discussed there was very little time between the publication of the report, at 4pm on Monday 22 July, before the Select Committee interviewed Dr Iain Anderson on the report, 10am on the following day, the 23rd July.   This allowed no time to digest the contents and make any representations to Members serving on the Select Committee.

 

We submit below our extreme concerns at the manner in which the Inquiry was conducted and the findings of the report.  We also raise several questions which we consider must be answered.  We submit the following:

 

1          Why has the Lessons Learned Inquiry not complied with the Recommendation of the EFRA Select Committee on FMD that in the absence of ‘full public inquiry’ the Inquiries should “conduct themselves transparently, taking evidence from as many sources as possible in public unless there are very clear reasons not to do so." Principal Recommendation 1 - Para 43(a)



2          Why was so much evidence taken in private? 

 

We did not know who had been called to give evidence, nor what evidence, either written or oral, was submitted until after the publication of the Report.  It was therefore impossible to question or challenge this evidence – or respond to it in any way, as would have happened under standard Public Inquiry procedure.

 

 

3          Why were many key witnesses not called to give evidence?

 

Most notably Dr Paul Kitching former head of FMD at IAH Pirbright, Dr Simon Barteling, Prof Fred Brown and Dr Keith Sumption.  All are renowned FMD scientists, fundamentally opposed to the Contiguous Cull policy and highly critical of the flawed models.  They have all been called to present evidence to the EU FMD Inquiry.   However, their important and crucial evidence has not been heard or considered by the LLI.

 

 

4          Why were many leading veterinarians who were involved during the epidemic not called to give evidence?

 

For example Dr Sheila Crispin of Bristol University, Dr Alan Richardson, Dr Roger Windsor and Prof Robert Michell – all of whom had highly relevant experience in the way the disease was handled, and again openly expressed opposition to the Contiguous Cull policy.  Neither their experience nor their professional opinion has been heard.   Several had submitted written evidence but none were asked to the Inquiry to expand on their submissions.

 

 

5          Why were virtually all the scientific witnesses called drawn from the Government’s own advisers? 

 

In having cognisance of only one side of the argument the Inquiry has failed to act with validity and integrity.

 

 

6          Why has the empirical data and factual information submitted to the Inquiry been ignored? 

 

Substantive evidence founded on Parliamentary Answers has not been taken

account of.  Most importantly the data provided in PQ’ and A’s demonstrating that of the 10,485 premises culled only 1,326 were lab confirmed to have had the disease has been disregarded.  The extremely few cases lab confirmed raises fundamental questions as to whether control measures adopted in response to the disease were proportionate, reasonable or rational.

 

 

7          Why was the empirical data and figures from Pirbright and DEFRA not used to assess the efficacy, impact and consequences of the Contiguous Cull policy? 

 

This information obtained and submitted by this organisation, Alan Beat and others provided hard, factual evidence that the 48 hour contiguous policy had resulted in massively increasing and extending the impact of the epidemic, and not delivering a swift conclusion to the outbreak.      

 

 

8          Why did the Inquiry fail to consider the validity of those who contested the Contiguous Cull policy and proved that the policy was not necessary to control the disease?  

 

Not only was our own extensive evidence on this ignored but none of the solicitors or barristers acting on behalf of those who opposed the cull were asked to attend the Inquiry to present evidence to demonstrate the legitimacy of the action taken.

 

 

9          Why were the various EU FMD Committee Minutes (1999 and 2000) and the EU Strategy for Emergency Vaccination adopted in 1999 not taken account of by the Inquiry in its consideration of Contingency Planning? 

 

The EU FMD Committee in March 2000 recommended that Member States ‘note the deteriorating FMD situation….and strengthen and heighten their preparedness and awareness of the risks of FMD”.

 

The Strategy for Emergency Vaccination of 1999 proposed to Member States that “National Contingency Plans should consider the possibility of emergency vaccination and provide an estimate of all logistical requirements…” together with the provision of appropriate vaccines and tests.

 

For the Inquiry to disregard the EU advice and its role in drawing up the UK contingency plans was a serious omission by the Inquiry.

 

 

10        Why did the Inquiry ignore the EU Decision relating to compensation for vaccination and vaccinated animals? 

 

            See EU Council Decision of 26 June 1990 (90/424/EEC) Articles 3 and 11. 

 

This was a key issue during the epidemic but the Inquiry has failed to point out that if the existence of this directive had been made known by the Government it may well have overcome many of the NFU objections to vaccination.

 

 

In conclusion the modus operandi of the Lessons Learned Inquiry has fallen well short of accepted Public Inquiry Procedure. 

 

In not allowing evidence to be heard in public and subsequently examined, many of the assumptions and assertions of the Government’s advisers have gone unchallenged and untested.  We now know from our own research, and the information we have obtained, that the hypotheses and assumptions, on which the models and policies are based, have not been supported by empirical and factual data.   Sadly the Inquiry has accepted the false premises on which these policies were founded.

 

Furthermore, as the Inquiry has not been prepared to take evidence from those who would have provided Expert Witness opinion on FMD science and the various control methods, the Lessons Learned Inquiry has provided no opportunity to question or apply critical analysis to the views expressed by the Government and its advisers.

 

In taking scientific evidence only from those who advised the Government the Inquiry has failed the EFRA Select Committee recommendation to take ‘evidence from as many sources as possible’.  It has also failed to act on the recommendation of the Northumberland Report; to listen to dissenting voices.

 

Without being prepared to hear both sides of the argument neither the Inquiry nor its Report can be accepted as having validity or integrity.  The opportunity to truly learn lessons has not been fulfilled. 

 

 

 

We would be very grateful to be advised how the EFRA Select Committee now intends to proceed to ensure the Lessons Learned Inquiry Report is now subject to critical analysis and debate, as per the Select Committee’s Recommendation.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Janet Bayley

 

We attach a copy of the Record of our Oral Submission to the Meeting with the Lessons Learned Inquiry of May 22 2002,  for information.