Lessons Learned Report increases the total number of laboratory confirmed infected premises by 33%
This has been done by the simple means of excluding the untested cases when working out the percentage of IPs that tested positive.It is possible that the Inquiry team did not understand the significance of some of the data held on the database.
Alternatively they chose to examine and include only data which supported the required conclusions: that is, that the epidemic was unprecedented and the pre-emptive cull was justified.
The so-called "KEY FACTS" in the final section of the Report are selected and presented in a way that does not encourage scrutiny. Nicola Morris however is interested and has done some calculations. She finds that the total number of infected premises "found to be positive for foot and mouth virus" has been increased by 33% (Making 1538 premises instead of 1153 )
" What they have done is put 2 sets of figures on the same table which are not related to each other - that is, figures separately are correct, but together they are quoting out of context"
In Cumbria for example, there were 673 positive IP cases, 86 negative IP results and 132 untested cases making 891 cases in total.
As percentages, approximately 75% were positive, 10% were negative and 15% were untested.
But if the untested cases are ignored then of the cases tested the % positive becomes 89%. And this is the figure that appears in Table 18.4 on page 172
Multiplied by all the counties in the same manner, the number of "infected premises confirmed with virus" is erroneously increased by 33%.
By manipulating the figures it is implied that an additional 385 premises were virus positive than was actually the case. That is, an increase of 33%. The aim is to make the slaughter policy more acceptable by creating the impression that the disease was widespread and a lot more farms were infectious than was the case.
We can say for certain only that on 1153 farms there were animals with active foot and mouth disease.
The clinical diagnosis of 401 cases, carried out by vets many of whom had never been taught anything about FMD, came back negative. "a negative result does not mean that the animal did not have FMD" became a government mantra during the crisis but the Institite of Animal Health, Pirbright, maintained throughout that laboratory testing is at least 90% accurate. It must therefore be accepted that at least 361 of the 401 laboratory negative cases did not have foot and mouth disease.
Furthermore, of the 301 untested cases, the detailed individual records for each of these premises ( held at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency) will reveal how many if any of these were truly infected. To assume that these 301 premises were truly infected, particularly where the 'infected' animals were sheep, is inaccurate and misleading.
Out of 2026 so-called IPs most, if not all, of the 171 antibody positive cases were negative for virus so these cases should have been identified separately or excluded from the list of IPs. These animals had quietly recovered from the disease and were now immune. They were all killed anyway in order to satisfy the Trading Rules.
On 702 'infected' farms, the clinical diagnosis was not supported at laboratory test - either because the laboratory test results were negative or because no samples were sent for testing.
Around 2700 farms were slaughtered because of their association with these laboratory 401 negative and 301 untested farms.