The Square Mile schmoozer (Guardian June 8)

Interview: Ruth Kelly, financial secretary to the Treasury

"...In that first term, Kelly did a stint on the treasury select committee,
scrutinising the activities of the department she now helps to run. She was
then chosen by agriculture minister Nick Brown to be his PPS - a job which
meant supporting him while he jousted with farmers and the media through the
foot and mouth crisis. "He was great to work for," she recalls, and
remembers admiring Nick Brown's willing ness to walk right into groups of
protesting farmers to discuss the issues with them face to face.

    Pat's Comment: Ridiculous. Nick Brown hid in London refusing to take an
    hour's train journey for months during CSF. The local press (EADT) ran a
    daily campaign to get him out of his office. Even the local councils (South Norfolk for example) were
    publicly pleading with him to visit.

    When he did visit, it was kept a secret. He went to a meeting, only reported
    later, with no real farmers, only NFU, NPA officials,multinationals and financiers. He
    then went off for a photo-opportunity.
    I was told, by journalists, that the campaign against him, being run by the
    East Anglian Daily Times was stopped by direct order of the agricultural
    editor of the sister paper, the Eastern Daily Press, Michael Pollitt. Press
    reports of the campaign against Nick Brown have become difficult to find on
    the .net.

    Michael Pollitt was later to  telephone
    me on a Saturday morning to tell me "You are lucky MAFF have not thrown you
    out of your home." He harangued me for, I think 20/30 minutes. I could not
    get a word in edgeways. Draw your own conclusions.

    My personal opinion is that whatever went on during that visit has a direct
    bearing on the handling of FMD a month or two later