Wide-ranging support for public inquiry into FMD crisis Oct 26 2001

The Journal's call for an independent public inquiry into the cause and handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis has wide-ranging support.

Conservative Penrith and the Border MP David Maclean is among a clutch of politicians from all parties who wants to see a public inquiry

He said: "I have called for a full, free and independent inquiry into all aspects of foot- and-mouth. We cannot have a whitewash job that pins the blame on an individual and takes the focus away from Maff.

Robert Foster, chairman of the National Beef Association and based in Northumberland, said: "The industry cannot afford to have foot-and-mouth again. Increased globalisation, increased movement of animals and people means that diseases are closer to us than ever before. A public inquiry is vital to make sure we learn from our mistakes and ensure they don't happen again.

Newcastle North Labour MP Doug Henderson said: "We need a public inquiry so that an independent body can hear all the evidence from everyone who has been affected and take steps to avoid anything like it in future. I don't think the public will be satisfied with an internal inquiry and I wouldn't be either.

Peter Atkinson, Conservative MP for Hexham, said: "It is absolutely essential that we have a full and impartial public inquiry. All those farmers who have had their livelihoods devastated deserve no less. I cannot understand why the Government cannot give a clear, outright undertaking to have one

"Are they afraid there will be serious criticism of the Government for moving too slowly at the start of the epidemic?

Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, said: "I think a fully independent public inquiry is essential to establish what happened and learn some lessons, particularly in terms of the mistakes that were made

"There were mistakes of various kinds, ranging from mistakes in the way we burned and buried the carcases to restrictions on animal movements that in some cases were too tight and in others not restrictive enough. I don't think anyone would be satisfied with an internal inquiry.

Ponteland farmer Ian Williamson wants to know how foot-and-mouth got on to his farm when there have been no animal movements on to his land for more than a year

"There are just so many questions that still need to be answered," he said

"I don't suppose we'll ever get to the bottom of this but at least if we have an open inquiry farmers will feel the Government cares enough to answer our questions.