TRANSCRIPT OF MEETING
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE – LESSONS LEARNED INQUIRY
HELD IN LOCKERBIE
ON THURSDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2002
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome to this third public meeting of the
independent Lessons to be Learned Inquiry from last year’s foot and mouth disease outbreak.
My name is Alun Evans and I am Secretary of the Inquiry.
On my right is Dr Anderson, who is leading the inquiry and who will take over soon to introduce the meeting tonight.
I just want very briefly to say how I propose to handle the meeting tonight.
There are a number of people here who submitted questions in advance and after Iain Anderson has spoken I will take a number of these to start the discussion going, I will then bring in anybody who wants to speak from the floor as long as they indicate and I will make sure I try and bring everybody in to make their points.
Some of them Iain may wish to respond to, others we will just move on to take more views.
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am very pleased to see you here, thank you all for coming on this cold and wintry evening.
I think you know already quite clearly of what we are about, you understand the terms of our inquiry and what we are aiming to do.
And as Alun Evans has just said, we are in the middle of a process now of making visits all across Great Britain to those areas most badly affected by the foot and mouth outbreak.
This is the third of what will be six visits.
The first was two or three weeks ago to Devon and Gloucester, last week we were in Wales and this week we are in Scotland.
And when we are here, as we have been today around the countryside of Dumfries and Galloway we are doing what we are doing all over the country, pretty well an identical format and that is we are out in the countryside, we are meeting farmers, we have met people who have businesses in the rural economy today, including people in the agricultural haulage business and so on.
We have stakeholder meetings around the table with people representing all kinds of interests so that the local perspective can be very clearly and forcibly brought to our attention, and we have a public meeting like we are now engaged in.
And that gives you the chance to raise issues and make your observations, ask questions, whatever you like.
And what you will say tonight will be a very important part of what we are gathering and will contribute to the basis of Lessons to be Learned and recommendations to the future.
So it is very much your meeting, the subjects that are raised are up to you and we will respond if it is necessary but we are here to listen and to use what you say, as I have already made clear, to inform our inquiry.
I hope that all of you here who have something that you want to say have the opportunity to say it, and there are quite a lot of people here so that means that we should try to be focused and brief and to the point and move on to allow everyone the chance to say what they want to say.
So without any more ado I will sit down and effectively leave the meeting to you and Alun who will act as Chairman.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
My question is about the entrance to the meeting, I wondered what the difference was between a public meting and a meeting by invitation.
The reason I am asking that is I had two friends called me this afternoon anxious to come to this meeting, but I pointed out that I had had to apply for a ticket, although it was a public meeting, and therefore they were unlikely to get in.
So I just wondered why you had issued invitations to what I understood was a public meeting.
Is there a difference?
There isn’t a difference, it is an entirely public meeting, but I take your point and it is a very fair question.
The reason why we asked people to apply for tickets was a sheer question of numbers and we didn’t know how many people would turn up, tonight we have got room for about 200 here and it is only about half full.
When we had Devon we had room for 220 and we were bursting at the seams.
So it was entirely a practical process of trying to get a gauge on how many people were likely to come.
In addition, precisely because of the point you raised, we phoned up the local papers in advance and said make sure people know it is a public meeting, whenever anyone phoned in to the COI, who are our agents in giving out the tickets, and indeed anyone who phoned the inquiry, we made it quite clear that it is a public meeting and do come along and that this process of tickets was sheerly to try and work out numbers.
So I am disappointed if people were kept away, we really did try to make clear that everyone was very welcome and we will take on board your point, certainly for the further three public meetings we are going to hold.
Now I am going to try and start some questions coming in.
There is one I thought I might start with from Mr John Charteris who wanted to ask about the nature of the public inquiry.
QUESTION (John Charteris)
I think my query was really the involvement of the military.
There were two points I made in my application, one that I thought there should be an independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of foot and mouth, which this isn’t, although perhaps your aim is halfway there, and I still think there should be a public inquiry into how the government handled it, because unless we get that right any other future animal disease control systems will not be right because there were so many mistakes made last time.
My other one was, I come from a military background and I have worked in the United Kingdom Land Forces and we have a whole series of plans pre-planned for military aid to the civil power and military aid to the civil community, one of which is labelled foot and mouth.
And as soon as foot and mouth came on the radio, I know that the general staff would have reached for that file to get out to see what plans they needed to make, and that would have been immediately to have stood up two local territorial brigades ready for the logistic work.
Now unless that is done immediately in any other outbreak there will never be enough logistic effort, or indeed command and control, for solving these problems and in this particular case of course it took weeks, and weeks, and weeks for the government to pull in the military, although they did claim they had called in some soldiers but in fact it turned out to be 6 vets only.
And it wasn’t until there was a really major crisis of disposal and command and control that the Army was brought in and only then was the disease begun to be brought under control.
And that is what concerns me, that this lesson was well learnt in 1967 and was highlighted in the Northumberland.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
Report that the army must be brought in on day one.
Now unless it is got right on the Lessons Learned on this one, I fear that if there was another outbreak we would be faced with the same crisis again.
Thank you for that very cogent point there.
I will ask Iain to say something particularly on the public and independent inquiry point.
You may want to talk about the army as well.
I would just like to very briefly deal with your second point because at the moment there is not much I am able or wish to say, except that the point you make, the issue you raise, has been raised with us by a number of people on several occasions and it is very central now to the questions we are asking and the inquiry we are following.
And there will be no doubt that by the time we are finished our work we will understand why what happened happened and on that basis we will make very clear recommendations about the future, taking the point exactly as you have presented it.
If I just refer to your first observation, I think there are two aspects to it and the first is we are an independent inquiry and I think I am able to say without fear that that is the position we are taking and that is the stance we are taking and that will be the quality that in the end is delivered with our recommendations.
On the question of the public inquiry, I think as you know the government has laid out its position very clearly as to why it believes that this independent inquiry is the best way to get quickly to the heart of the matter, to identify the lessons to be learned and to make recommendations for the future on the basis of these lessons.
Now in my experience so far in conducting our inquiry, I find that having the discussions that I am having with a whole range of people out of the glare of the camera is a constructive contribution to the dialogue and certainly supports a candour of exchange with which I am very satisfied.
So I am comfortable with the position, the position has been clearly laid out by the government, it is on that basis that I have accepted to undertake this independent inquiry and it is on that basis that I intend to see it through until the report, which as you know will be by the middle of the year, by
the end of June.
QUESTION (Andrew Duncan, Independent Farmer)
The inquiry is to report to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Environment, Rural Affairs, as well as the devolved administrations in Scotland and in Wales and has been asked and has been formed by that government.
Are we the public going to hear what the report is, because you say that you are an independent inquiry, but if you are independent then we the independent people of this country must know what that inquiry comes out with.
It appears that you are just being set up by the government and are only going to report to them.
I regret that that is insufficiently clear at this moment, and let me make it completely clear now to you, that the work that we are doing and the report that we produce by the middle of the year will be published and in its entirety you will be able to see what we are saying and why we are saying it and make your judgment on that basis.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
QUESTION (tenant Farmer near Newcastleton)
Please could you tell us, in connection with the status of the inquiry, what relationship will
you have with SEERAD and do you have powers to see the papers that so far, as we understand it, have been covered by some kind of Official Secrets Act, because it would make a great deal of difference to the appearance of openness if we felt that you could reach to those parts of government where the decisions were actually taken.
Your question has three parts.
We have no relationship with SEERAD whatsoever.
The second is that I have complete assurance, which has now been backed up by practice, that all requests that I make to hold discussions with Ministers or senior officials, or for that matter anyone else in government employment will be met fully and I have no reason whatsoever to suspect that in future it will be different from now, and that is full cooperation.
And the third point of your question on access to papers, I have been assured that any papers that are pertinent to the scope of our work in foot and mouth disease terms will be available to us and I can report to you that so far all requests that we have made in that regard have been fully met.
My question is more to Alun Evans rather than the Chairman.
It just so happens, and I don’t want to be too pompous about it, I am Chairman of the RICS, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, representing 9,000 members, a small proportion of whom represent the greatest number of professional land managers in Scotland.
As Chairman I didn’t know about this inquiry being held here until 11.
00 this morning.
I notice you have had round table discussions with other organisations, I take it to be the NFUS in Scotland.
I would like to have been afforded the same opportunity because a lot of my members in south west Scotland were advising clients, and not least SEERAD, some of them indeed, and I know there is one sitting in the room here, who was directly affected by a cull of his own stock.
Would you like to comment please Mr Evans?
I certainly will comment.
In terms of who we invited to the meetings, we were extremely keen to get as many organisations, particularly representative ones like your own, in to meet us and we took advice from a number of people and a number of groups on who the most sensible groups, the most worthwhile groups to invite were, and I rather regret if yours wasn’t one of those.
What I can say is two things, one is, and this goes for everyone here, that you are welcome to send in a submission to our address in London and to the website which is there, and particularly in the case of your organisation we would be more than happy to meet a representative group of the professional organisation that you meet, if you could either come down to London or if not we will try and speak afterwards about how we can fit you in, because it was no deliberate action whatsoever on our part to exclude you and I regret it.
There have been a number of questions on culling and the impact that that had, so I would like to move on to that, if you are content with that.
Andy Hurst of the Heart of Galloway asked a number of questions, including one on the inconsistency of policy.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
QUESTION (Andy Hurst)
I am sorry I can’t remember my questions.
About the inconsistency of the way in which the 3 kilometre cull was applied.
If there is something else you want to talk about, feel free to raise it.
I submitted many questions.
One point that I really wanted to make was that there didn’t seem to be any learning as the situation went on.
We had scientists from Pirbright saying that the disease wasn’t airborne, the spread wasn’t airborne, yet the assumption presumably for the cull carried on considering that.
I would like to know why when facts emerged as foot and mouth progressed, why there didn’t appear to be any change in policy and why experts’ advice was ignored.
I don’t want to say much on that, but my early impression is that there indeed was a process of learning, as the outbreak developed, and a number of people during the course of our discussions today have brought examples of that to my attention.
So I am particularly interested in your experience which suggests there was no learning and as a result of that we will revisit that question not only in terms of the information we are receiving from Dumfries and Galloway but from other parts of the country.
Because I certainly want to identify with your point, and indeed it is all about learning and I see opportunities for learning within the framework of the disease outbreak itself.
I am a bit disappointed by your observation, but I will follow it up.
QUESTION (Juanita Wilson)
I run the Mossburn Animal Sanctuary.
On the point of learning, my neighbour was a confirmed case of foot and mouth and he had sheep in a field adjacent to my premises.
He was confirmed, he was killed out and he was burnt.
Five weeks later I had a call from the Scottish Executive to ask if I was aware there was a pre-emptive cull taking place.
I told them I was aware of it, that I did not agree with it and I thought that the whole thing was a little abysmal.
They told me they were going to come and kill my three sheep and 14 goats anyway but that I had a right of appeal.
If we are going to talk about learning, I pointed out to them that the incubation period of the disease was 3 – 14 days and that my 3 sheep and 14 goats were running with a number of cattle and pigs and had they been harbouring the disease then my pigs and my cattle would either have been very dead or very sick.
None of this was taken on board.
£14,500 and two court cases later my animals were allowed to live and the policy of the 3k cull was changed in Scotland.
There wasn’t much of a learning process though and it cost us very dear.
QUESTION (Roger Windsor)
I am a Veterinary Surgeon, I am a member of the Council of Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in London.
I was involved in the 1967 outbreak of foot and mouth disease, I was involved in this one here in Dumfries and Galloway last year.
The whole outbreak was a disaster, a disaster from many, many different aspects.
If we start with the culling policy, the Prime Minister decided to take the control of the outbreak from the hands of veterinary surgeons, from the Chief Veterinary Officer.
He put it into the hands of a.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
mathematical modeller and the Chief Scientist.
One was a chemist and the other with
no biological training and neither had any veterinary experience.
It is absolutely vital to controlling any outbreak that you understand not just the mathematics and the computer programmes, you have to understand the nature of people, the fact that they have their livelihoods, their animals which they care for, and that you cannot under any civilised society go around killing large numbers of animals to form a firebreak and that is what we were doing.
I hasten to add I refused to have anything to do with culling, I still have, and I think that this has been the biggest disaster of this whole outbreak.
And it is quite interesting to note that in 1967 there were approximately 2,000 farms affected with foot and mouth disease.
In this outbreak the number of farms affected was also about 2,000.
The difference is in this outbreak we slaughtered 10,000 farms and it must never happen again.
QUESTION (Max Hyslop)
I couldn’t agree more than with our last speaker, the vet, because our experience was we eventually, near Hightae, had livestock confirmed of foot and mouth.
However, it ran something like this.
It was reported on a Sunday, the vet arrived, the vet examined the sheep, a quarter of which had temperatures of 105 degrees.
On the Monday half of them had temperatures of 105 degrees.
On the Tuesday three-quarters had.
Now as the vet says, you didn’t leave it to the vets to decide anything, they had to continually use their mobile phones to phone London for their next instruction.
Now even farmers, let alone vets, know full well that sheep with a consistent temperature of 105 degrees spreading through the flock don’t just get better on their own.
However, some 13 days later, after various tests as instructed by London to be carried out, we were told that we were all clear, we did not have foot and mouth.
And within a matter of 3 – 4 hours, on a visit to sign us off, we were told we had foot and mouth.
Now I find that absolutely a disgrace to the farmers and to the veterinary profession.
Anyone, everyone knew, my own vet said when I called him to say we were all clear, please don’t call me to the farm.
Now surely that was a disgrace to my neighbours as well because during all that time we harboured and manifested foot and mouth.
Surely there is a lesson to be learned from that.
Would you write to me with details of the case you have just described.
I think you know how to get in touch with us.
If not, if you ask later we will make sure you do.
I would appreciate it if you would.
QUESTION (Mr Hutchison)
I am a hill farmer from Dumfriesshire.
In the course of this independent inquiry will you ever truly manage to establish the source of the outbreak, if it was genuinely the farmer
from Heddon on the Wall or had it indeed been in the country for longer, as many suspect it had been but it was kept under wraps.
I hope this will be revealed because unless we can establish this, this whole inquiry will go nowhere.
Given the scale of the fire that has been put out, a genuine inquiry would identify the source and clearly see if there are any embers still glowing that might reignite.
If we can go back to 1969, it took 32 years for the next outbreak to happen.
Given globalisation and the muck that is coming through our ports and airports just now, this is the source that has been blamed for this outbreak.
So it seems to me that it is even more likely to happen in the next 20 years than it was in the last 32.
And all I can say is that if it happens again, I hope it.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 doesn’t happen in an election year when figures have been manipulated from start to finish and the public misguided.
I thank you Sir.
I really do want to reject your suggestion that a genuine inquiry would establish the source and by implication this is not a genuine inquiry.
The question you raise about the sources is absolutely central to the work we are doing.
We have got a long way to go.
We have already asked for and received a lot of information and we will follow that through to the end.
And if you or indeed if anyone else here has relevant information, particularly information that is hard and factual and not anecdotal, that supports any theory of the introduction of this disease, I would ask you to share it with us as soon as you possibly can.
QUESTION (Margaret Taylor, Wormfrey, Nr Moffat)
I would like to speak about the culling of neighbours cattle, I think it has been touched on already, which was a national policy based on conditions which were mainly prevalent in North Cumbria.
In the south of Scotland average farm size is larger and the vast majority of holdings are within a ring fence.
There are also more physical barriers to disease spread.
Consequently approximately 25 – 30 farmers whose cattle were destined to die, but did not, still have their cattle in this area.
If the modellers were accurate, 4 or 5 should have become confirmed cases, but none did.
Also those neighbours whose cattle died more than 2 weeks after the confirmed case were also all clean herds.
This was an experiment.
How did these modellers suddenly become credible to the politicians? Of their two suggestions, one was obvious to everyone, kill infected premises within 24 hours, and the other was plainly nonsense in this area and caused a huge backlog of culling and probable lengthening of the outbreak because of this.
I also feel very let down by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive by allowing a devolved matter to be run from London, even when it rapidly became obvious that London was not competent to deal with the situation.
QUESTION (Peter Darwell, Camphill Village Trust)
I wanted to bring up the point about the contiguous cull.
Now it seemed to me that there was no local interest taken from local vets or people who know the ground about which farms were actually going to get culled out.
I speak in respect of the fact that our neighbour, who unfortunately did contract foot and mouth, although the fact that we had a river and a marshy field not seeing any livestock for 6 months, a main road before you got to our farm, and then after 2 appeals to the Veterinary Office in the bunker in Dumfries, one was a written request, one was a face to face meeting, we were still culled out and it seems as though it happened to have come from a map that somebody was reading in Edinburgh rather than actually contacting maybe the local vet to say well there is absolutely no connection between those two farms and to sort of look at that situation that between us and the farm which had the foot and mouth was a 35 acre smallholding and because they did not have a border with that farm, although they were geographically closer they kept their cattle.
Now whether the fact that he is an ex-MAFF man has anything to do with it is hearsay.
But I would also like to say that we have a sister community down in Gloucestershire which became quite well known on the local news and the fact that they held out very strongly against the slaughter and managed to keep their cattle all the way through, even though everything else around them was.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
So that seems to be two wide ranging situations, although being very
What date are you referring to?
We were culled out on 13 April and if it was two weeks later we wouldn’t have been culled out.
QUESTION (Mr Windsor)
I don’t wish to hog the conversation but I am not sure whether there are any other vets who worked on the outbreak present here tonight.
But I think the last speaker has highlighted something that was very, very serious in the control in Dumfries and Galloway and that is that the outbreak occurred here and it was controlled from Ayr, now it should have been controlled from here.
There was in fact a contingency plan that had been prepared many years previously and updated regularly for controlling the outbreak in Dumfriesshire by the Dumfries Veterinary Office.
Unfortunately what happened, in 1995 there was a review of government of the State Veterinary Service which resulted in a massive reduction in staff.
When I came to work in Scotland in 1992 there was one Assistant Chief Veterinary Officer, there were 5 regional Veterinary Officers and 12 Divisional Veterinary Officers working in Scotland.
At the time of the outbreak there was one Assistant Veterinary Officer, one Regional Veterinary Officer and 5 Divisional Veterinary Officers, the rest had all been got rid off.
The centre in Dumfriesshire was moved to Ayr and consequently the people in Ayr did not wish to come and spend time in a hotel living in Dumfries and so the Dumfries plan was ignored, as a result of which the outbreak was controlled by people who had no concept of Dumfriesshire, they didn’t know, they didn’t live here.
Most of the vets in the area could have helped them but our input into administration was not required, we were just footsoldiers going out and we did as we were told basically, unless you got too stroppy.
But in fact much of the disasters that happened here happened because the outbreak was not controlled locally and that must never ever be allowed to happen again.
Could I ask you please, or indeed anyone else who has knowledge to share with us on the role of the bunker in Dumfries.
Because a number of people during the course of today have raised that issue with us and I have understood from those that have raised it that the bunker played a very important role in the management of the disease in Dumfries and Galloway.
Now the implication that I am taking from your observation is that that may not be the case.
QUESTION (John Roberts)
I would just like to say that the gentlemen that spoke before is absolutely correct.
I was one of the slaughtermen at Parkhouse Farm at Canonbie, which was one of the first farms to be destroyed.
It was all run from Ayr and they had no idea what they were doing, they were feeding information to the vets that were on the frontline and unfortunately it was not correct.
With regard to disinfection, they had no disinfection or very, very little disinfection for anyone coming on to the farm, and especially going off.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
We tried to explain to Ayr what was going on and they were not interested, they were penny pinching, they were concerned at the very start what it was going to cost, they were concerned at a load of wood that came from Glasgow in a 25 ton tipper, I don’t know how much money it was costing, but only 6 ton came in the lorry, a 25 ton lorry delivered 6 ton of wood.
I would also like to say that the vets in the front line took a lot of snash (phon) from their superiors and the gentleman, what he said there, it was absolutely correct.
I would also like to say that on the 23rd , which was the Monday after all livestock was banned from being moved, I got a phone call from the Ayr office at night asking me to go and destroy an animal some 30 miles from Dumfries, without a licence, I was also asked to dispose of the animal.
Farmers were not allowed to move animals, neither should MAFF be allowed.
Fortunately I did not move that animal, for obvious reasons, but yet I was told to do that.
Total incompetence at the highest levels.
Nick Brown stood up and said that foot and mouth was under control.
Who advised Nick Brown to say that? It must have been Scudamore, the vet.
And those officials that are high up in the Ayr office, Edinburgh office, London, they are all still employed, they all collect their wages on a Friday night, and their pensions, but there are hundreds and hundreds of small businesses that have been totally destroyed because of this incompetence at the highest level.
QUESTION (Jim Samson)
I used to have an AI business until MAFF put me out of business.
I had the misfortune as well to go and work for MAFF.
And having knowledge of all the AI regulations, I have quite a good knowledge of the regulations for foot and mouth as well and since that is what most of the regulations for AI were all about, I had to have a unit and a vet and it was all to do with foot and mouth.
So when I was on an infected premises, once I got out I went to work for MAFF and I was head of the slurry team, I had to sort out the problem with the slurry.
Now because of that I sat and I pored over regulations for the first two days to see if I knew what I was talking about.
Now every time I spoke to a vet in that office in Dumfries I got a different interpretation of the regulations, they seemed to make it up as they went along.
But the one thing that became clear to me was that these regulations had never been updated since the last outbreak of foot and mouth.
They were talking about byre systems, stacking muck in a field, there was no mention of slurry anywhere until later on in the regulations.
Now we were being told that the slurry ought to be treated and spread on the farm, or indeed to get it into lagoons.
Now I have spoken to vets who have been working during swine fever outbreaks and what they did was they built temporary lagoons out in a field, treated it with caustic soda, left it sitting out there for a while and then spread it later on.
This became totally unreasonable to ask anybody to do this.
The actual amounts of slurry involved were horrendous.
We weren’t there that long until we got to 40 million gallons of slurry which was an impossible task to treat and move.
I put a motion to vets at the time that they put a deadline on when farmers could spread this slurry, let it sit in the system, when could we spread it, and what I got back was no, no, it all had to be treated.
Now I had worked out that this was going to take over a year and what they were saying was that the disease would be basically dead, and I asked for a time limit on this, I couldn’t get one, and it wasn’t until after I had left MAFF that somebody came up with the figure of 150 days, if slurry had been left in situ for 150 days it was declared safe.
And on that point, surely any cattleshed left for 150 days spread with disinfectant would be safe as well, so what was the point of all the washing up? And a point in case is a high rise slatted shed where I live, I washed the top half of that shed three times to get it clean, the bottom half.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 was never touched, it sat full of slurry, and I think it was on day 145 I finished washing the top of the shed and 5 days later a vet turned up and said you can now spread the slurry in the bottom of that shed.
I said do I wash the shed out after that? No, no, the shed is completely safe.
So on that point, what was the point of washing up? And that brings me back to the regulations.
The regulations state that restocking should have taken place 6 weeks after the fire on each farm and that is what all the washing up regulations were in place to do, to restock as soon as possible after the fire.
Once it became clear that restocking was not going to take place within 6 weeks or 6 weeks after the fire, that is when all cleansing and disinfectant should have stopped, they should have had disinfected farms, they shouldn’t have cleaned them and after 150 days everybody could have restocked their farm.
Now that was my interpretation of the regulations.
There was no updating of it so they were completely out of date and that is what they were trying to work to, and the washing up has caused so much frustration to farmers and ill feeling among farmers, much more so I think than the culling and compensation there, and that is the point I would like to make on the regulations.
QUESTION (Janet Rogerson, Hightae)
My point covers several issues, one is contingency planning, the other one culling and disposal.
On 11 March 4 vehicles with numerous personnel turned up to kill the sheep of a person who had been known to be a dangerous contact for 2 weeks, he had worked on infected farms and he was at liberty to move around the countryside for 2 weeks.
Now I am no scientist but I see disease spread as like an equation, there is people, there is airborne and all this other stuff, although airborne was later on shown not to be the case.
To me the government focussed totally on the animals and forgot about all the other ways that the disease could be spread, or at least didn’t give it a priority.
When the farm in Lockerbie was confirmed, that day the media, the police, were outside that farm gate as if that gate was some sort of barrier and were standing there giving media interviews, it was madness.
The town street had traffic going in both direction, anybody with half a brain would have stopped traffic movement going by the doors of that farm, incredible.
The people who were making the decisions couldn’t see such an obvious step to take.
Now that must have caused a lot of disease spread.
On 11 March 4 vehicles turned up, as I say, various personnel, word on the jungle drums was that they were coming to kill these sheep at last, because we were all watching them to see if they were showing any signs of ill health.
And I looked and saw, and Ivor Williams’ trailer and various other jeeps and I thought well where is this leak-proof vehicle, and then I thought oh well the Ivor Williams trailer is obviously for their clothing, they are having it like a mobile unit.
No such luck.
They reversed this trailer into the field and they rugby tackled several sheep in order to get them on this trailer, they shot them and then they pulled some of the bodies off, put the next lot of sheep in and shot them.
Amateurish, you know it was so obvious.
Before that, the man must have thought oh disinfectant, I need to do that, he ran along a road for about 200 metres, jumped a field, got into a burn, filled up his disinfectant container with water, came back, sprayed the wheels of the trailer and then drove that trailer out on to the road.
The road wasn’t closed, people were passing by all the time, the people who had been involved in rounding up the vehicle, they were standing around on the roadside, their muddy boots had walked across the road, all this mud on the road, these wheels, it was amateurish and this was the professional team that had come.
Thank God the army came in because what I saw there was certainly not reassuring and the farmer across the road said to me, well if that’s it, he says I doubt we are beat, and never more truer words.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
And then two of the people who had been involved in rounding up the sheep came to have a wee blether with him, and he put his hand up and said get yourselves back.
They didn’t seem to understand that this was an infectious disease and that they may well have it on their boots.
My pet sheep was killed in the interests of this disease because of this incompetence.
Did the vet want to come back and comment on the bunker, the question that Iain asked earlier on about how effective it was in Dumfries?
I just wanted to say that in fact it is an elaboration of what I said before, which was because the contingency plan wasn’t used it was a disaster in Dumfries, and in fact instead of having one centre to control the outbreak in Dumfries, even in Dumfries we had three separate units, there was the disease control in Brooms Road, the Ministry of Agriculture office, the Divisional Veterinary Office that used to be, that was where the disease was controlled and there was at some stage about 100 vets and the other staff working from there.
Then we had the bunker, what I prefer to call the infamous bunker which was totally responsible for killing healthy animals.
That was the place where the 3 kilometre and the contiguous cull were controlled from, it was a separate group of vets, they did not work with the disease control vets.
And then lastly towards the end we had yet a third place at Catherinefield Estate, or somewhere out on that estate, where they had the cleansing and disinfection.
So the whole lot was totally run in three different places in Dumfries and they were then controlled by another place in Ayr.
It was a recipe for a disaster and a disaster is what we got.
Thank you for that.
I will follow up all of these points that you have described.
QUESTION (John Mair)
I am a farm manager up near Castle Douglas who was taken out in a 3 kilometre cull, 3 farms which I manage were all taken out under a 3 kilometre cull.
When I phoned up the bunker to find out why I was given a D Notice, I was told we can’t tell you, I do not know the reasons.
When the D Notice was delivered it was delivered to a cottage on the estate which had nothing to do with the farm, it was 12 hours later before I actually received the D Notice.
When I eventually found out the farm that had foot and mouth I put in an appeal because there was a mile of water between me and the farm and also marshland which is an RSPB site between ourselves and the farms that had foot and mouth.
We put in an appeal and was told that there would be no appeal, you could put in an appeal but you would not succeed.
We were culled.
One of the arguments I had, regardless of the water, the other side of my farm was also another loch and about tens of thousands of acres of Forestry Commission.
I said if I get the disease it can’t go anywhere else.
No, you will still be culled.
We were culled out and there was not one more outbreak of foot and mouth in our area, it was completely stopped.
Our animals were all checked out and found to be clear.
The vet that did the inspection before the cull was a lecturer at Glasgow Veterinary College and told me the chances of foot and mouth crossing water was about 99.
999% against, so basically we were taken out for nothing.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 QUESTION (Mr Durnie, Farmer and Land Agent)
Targets were set fairly early on in the outbreak to try and kill infected premises within 24 hours and contiguous premises within 48 hours, and it seemed to me that the government were spinning the truth as to what was actually happening out here.
I have a farm at Moffat, I have 4 farming neighbours, 3 of whom got foot and mouth, so we were obviously a candidate for either getting foot and mouth or being culled as a contiguous farm.
I phoned the bunker and I phoned Ayr every day, 7 days a week for 3 weeks, and whilst they were very courteous, on not one occasion would they tell me when they were going to come to cull my livestock.
Three weeks, and yet in the news we were being told that the targets of 48 hours were being achieved.
It was absolute nonsense, it just didn’t happen.
Moffat, as far as I am aware was the most northerly outbreak in the UK of foot and mouth and you would have thought that if the 3 kilometre cull was a good idea and well thought out, one of the first things to do would have gone around the north of Moffat to stop it getting any further north.
Well ours was the last couple of farms in the district to get the 3 kilometre cull, they started 10 miles south, which I find as a layman absolutely extraordinary.
QUESTION (Stewart Jamieson)
Just to comment about the bunker, probably a slightly more positive comment than we have heard so far.
Having said that, I wasn’t directly involved in the disease thankfully, neither through the cull or as involved in veterinary matters.
My impression of the bunker was a bit more positive from a communication point of view, I also think that possibly there certainly were doubts in the ability of the bunker to cope later on, but I think the important thing about the bunker was it got started very quickly and it obviously was something that was quite relevant to the particular town you are in just now, having been part and parcel of the Lockerbie disaster.
The important point I think from the bunker is that the people in there, or to some extent the people early on were trained in the logistics of disaster scenarios and I think this is one of the principles that we have got to take on.
Now I am not saying that they coped well as things went on because perhaps this whole situation became too big for them and in that situation the obvious people who are able to cope with disaster scenarios are the army and I think most of us here believe the army should have been called in a lot earlier.
But really the point I am trying to make in taking this forward is that in other disaster scenarios we can’t expect normal routine sort of people, Ministry vets, local councillors, people like that to cope, we must have people at the top who are actually trained in disaster scenarios.
The only obvious people in this country are in fact the army or military personnel.
So I would suggest that we need to look a lot closer at the possibilities for having these sort of people involved in disaster scenarios, and also make the point which I think was another advantage of the bunker, that in fact power was very much devolved at a local level early on and I would say that that is another matter that we have to look at very closely and how we devolve power from central organisations who have no awareness of the practicalities in the field to a local level.
Thank you for that extremely helpful input.
I would like to ask you a question based on that, and indeed anyone else who may want to make a remark.
Is it the case that the army were involved in and responsible for the process of contiguous cull and not involved in work with infected premises? That is correct? Thank you.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 QUESTION:
You couldn’t even move pressure washers from one farm to another, it was only a matter of 100 yards up the road and we couldn’t move any of the equipment that was holding us up.
You know we stood for a day not doing anything when we should have been getting on with the job.
And the politicians would not let the army come in for one reason, and that was because of the election.QUESTION:
I want to comment on command and control.
There are clear rules in government about military aid to the civil authority which no doubt you will study because that is the authority on which the army is brought in to help the civil authority and on the grounds that they can do, and clearly command and control is very, very important in these matters and I will just say that the army was involved both in the dirty and on the clean side of this cull, they were involved in the contiguous cull and they were also involved in the firebreak cull and the soldiers were divided so one were a clean lot and one were a dirty lot of the ones how they did it.
But there was distinct hostility by the bunker command when the army were brought in, and there was hostility from the National Farmers Union of Scotland who made some outrageous statements about the army being brought in and their ability to help in the matter, which was resented very much by the army at the time.
And the other thing was, there was a failure to share intelligence and information with the force commander when he came here for nearly a week, until the riot act was read to the bunker civilians saying unless you do share the information and you do attend the command and control briefings in the morning, the army will not be able to operate correctly to help the civil community.
And it was only really after Tony Blair visited the bunker and knocked some heads together that the system properly worked and all the senior people started going to the army briefings in the morning and the army started exercising proper command and control over this outbreak.
QUESTION (Paul Thomas)
I live in Tundergarth and I work as a community worker in Annandale and Eskdale.
It is hard to know where to get my point in here, but it really relates to the disposal, principally through the burning of animals.
The first pyre in Scotland was lit just a few yards from where we are sitting now.
It would have been a very different experience about a year ago sitting here.
And as I perceived it, and I am yet to be reconvinced otherwise, there was a complete lack of regard for the health of the people living and working and walking through this community when that pyre and subsequent ones were lit.
I know there was smoke analysis done, but my perception of that was that that began about three weeks after the burning of animals commenced and my perception is it was largely as a result of local pressure.
Will the inquiry be empowered to discover what were the constituents of those early pyres? There is a lot of anecdote around, they were old sleepers, there were tyres used, this was a very snowy wet time of year for example, it burnt my recollection is for about 7 or 8 days in town.
My personal experience is that there are a lot of people, elderly and young particularly, but others amongst us as well have suffered recurring asthmatic bronchitic, low level but chronic illnesses and malaises since that time.
And it is often referred to as a medieval way of disposing of animals, it was actually a Victorian way because people in medieval times buried infected animals is my information.
To move that subject on to the bunker in Dumfries, we have got a very lively community up in Tundergarth and I received word that a deal had been done with a farm close by to build a large pyre as a contingency measure.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 Through my work I have contact with a number of people that are in positions of local authority and I asked the question at the bunker and at several strategic groups within the region.
This was denied, it was flatly denied when we had an admission from the farmer that the deal had been done.
Eventually it appeared on the Scottish Executive website that this site had been identified and of course the admissions started coming through, but that is an indication of how we were treated when we were making enquiries about the general community health, because I think that is a very, very important issue in this subject.
I will sort of leave it there for now, but also the other thing there is the possible spread not just of foot and mouth but of other diseases by disposing of animals in this way, I think there is a lot of evidence to say it is not the best way to dispose of animals.
It is my assertion that no public health risk assessment was done before those early fires were lit.
Whoever was responsible for that, I find that absolutely out of order, and that very little analysis of the possibility of airborne toxins and diseases was done.
It is my understanding that there are a number of diseases, bacterial and viral, that can be transferred from animals to humans.
It is an issue I have been trying to raise for a long time.
It is very hard to get answers and information and will the inquiry be taking these issues on board?DR ANDERSON
We will certainly take your remarks very seriously and to address the point that you made directly, is this inquiry empowered to look into these matters, and I hope I have made it clear earlier, and if not I would like to repeat that this inquiry is empowered to look into anything that it decides it should look into.CHAIRMAN And I should add that if people want to follow up things they say tonight with submissions, they are welcome to write to us at 9 Whitehall, or if you have got the website to send it via the website.
QUESTION (tenant Farmer, Near Newcastleton)
I would like, if I can, to describe exactly what happened to us when we were killed out because I think it illustrates the inconsistency of the culling policy and perhaps explains our total incomprehension as a community to understand why these healthy animals were slaughtered.
We were in an infected area under 48 hour supervision when 50 of the 300 sheep on this farm had their temperatures taken and the two vets there, one a senior vet from Moordown, felt that this raised temperature at 105 was suspicious.
We waited for 4 hours to see whether, by leaving them quiet in a pen the temperatures might fall, and they didn’t.
Then they contacted the CVO in Galashiels who immediately referred them to Page Street where a call was then made via mobile.
The two vets were very much in disagreement actually at this stage as to how suspicious they should be, but they went through to Page Street and were immediately told, and the conversation that I actually listened to as they conducted it couldn’t have been more than about 3 sentences, to immediately kill them.
What they had proposed was that they should wait until the following morning.
So the cull which took place the following day, which was conducted perfectly properly, but to my amazement, although tests had been done both for epithelium and for blood as they slaughtered them, they then set about slaughtering contiguous farms and to just complete the scenario, the 3 kilometre cull was also put in motion.
It so happened that an outbreak occurred near Jedburgh the following day and the borders were not equipped to deal with the logistics to cope with.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 more than one outbreak at a time, so they pulled away from completing the contiguous cull and we didn’t hear any more for another 10 days.
All my neighbours were waiting for the cull to return.
In the meantime we made many appeals asking for the animals on the contiguous and 3 kilometre farms to be tested to see whether in fact there was any disease present and that was consistently refused.
Now what is the logic of conducting a cull like this without testing to find out whether the disease is present? Eventually when the outbreak near Jedburgh had been completed they then did finally decide to test and all the other farms were found to be free and were saved.
This was the first time that they had tested like that as the disease had come at us from Longtown up towards Canonbie and then beyond.
And on a smaller point, but again it seems to me to be completely arbitrary, the 3 kilometre cull one would have thought would have been based on 3 kilometres from the boundaries of the infected premises, but because I suppose it was easier to identify where the farm steading was on any particular farm, that was considered to be the centre of the outbreak.
Now if you look at the farms round me, many of them are 1 or 2,000 acre hill farms.
It isn’t rocket science to realise that if farm steading is at the other end you will get away with it, and as it was we were missed by 100 metres as a result of that farm steading being at the other end of the so-called infected premises.
And it was this kind of aspect of the way in which the culling was being conducted that was completely incomprehensible to us.QUESTION (Ronnie Cunningham Jardine)
I am Lord Lieutenant of Dumfriesshire, and I am sorry, I am standing at the back because I have got to go, but I just wanted to say before I did go that Professor Anderson was talking about the bunker house, we have had lots of views about the bunker house, but I was there almost every day, not in a capacity of any knowledge but just chatting up the troops I suppose you could say.
And in my opinion what would have happened without that bloody bunker house running the day the foot and mouth came, God knows.
That bunker has been going for a long time.
I was involved in it at the Lockerbie disaster.
Immediate action by the bunker house, straight into the Academy, organisation and efficiency.
There were two enormous snowdrifts on the A74.
Who took complete control? OK, the road was blocked but there were thousands of people in the Academy having to be fed because they couldn’t get out.
So please don’t kick that bunker house and I want to actually publicly say that they did a wonderful job, and also the people that had the hands on dirty jobs every day, they need a message too.
Thank you.CHAIRMAN Thank you very much for that other perspective.
Thank you.DR ANDERSON Would you allow me, Alun, just to correct one thing, Sir, before you leave.
I am not
Professor, I appreciate you giving me that title but it is not mine.
And I like to correct that only because there is a Professor Anderson, Professor Roy Anderson, who has been a very active spokesman on a number of topics related to foot and mouth disease.
It is not me, Sir.
QUESTION (Robin Spence)
I am a local farmer who also was in the bunker.
I will deal with the bunker as the first part of my statement.
A lot of the problems which people seem to attribute to the bunker are.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 the facts of the messages that were coming from there.
There were two distinct parts to it, there was the bunker, which is the emergency control centre below ground which was dealing with all the logistical difficulties of the disease control which will cause phase one which was infected premises, dangerous contacts and slaughter and suspicions.
When the pre-emptive cull came in, it also was based there, largely in the Loreburn Hall, and that was where the planning of the pre-emptive cull, which was the 3 kilometre sheep cull and eventually the contiguous cattle cull was carried out from.
If we look at the army involvement, I think if there ever is another outbreak, the army must be brought in very early, even if only in an advisory capacity so that when the need for them becomes evident they know exactly what is happening and how the thing works.
It was a little bit unfortunate that they were left as late to come in, it was also very unfortunate that when they did come in they happened to have a commanding officer there, and I am talking about a Lieutenant Colonel Pickard who is one of the most arrogant and ignorant men I have met in my entire life, and I would like to refute John Charteris’s statement about people’s heads being banged together once Tony Blair had been there, he was the one man I have seen in the whole thing who did not put his politics aside or himself aside to fight for the common aim of disease eradication.
He was I would say a typical stuffed shirt arrogant person.
Once he was gone the coalition between the army and every other body was superb, without question.
If I could now move on to testing.
Testing is a wonderful scenario, we have already heard from Max Hyslop how it kept the disease running as long, and that is why we are in the mess we are, because in the early stages of the outbreak when a vet saw clinical signs of foot and mouth, instead of slaughtering within 24 hours, they referred to Page Street and were repeatedly told to test, and retest and retest, by which time the disease was spreading, and spreading and spreading.
So I think the key message is, if we ever have another outbreak of foot and mouth, act divisively and quickly, slaughter out the infected animals, slaughter out the ones round about them.
I am not a fan of contiguous cattle in this area but in an isolated outbreak it is the way to stop the disease.
If you are talking about a single spark outbreak, the first outbreak you ever see, if you remove everything round about it you have killed it stone dead.
There is no point in waiting until you have a thousand cases and doing it because then the thing is out of control and that is what happened here, the government waited far too long to act and then you got to the stage where they seemed to lose the plot and wanted to remove huge numbers of livestock.
Too much too late was the thing.
Is it not the case that the virus had spread widely around the country before there was any understanding that the virus was in the country?
That is totally correct, but there are two or three things which were very inept.
The first thing was we had foot and mouth discovered in an abattoir in Essex on perhaps the Tuesday.
Now the immediate thing should be, if foot and mouth is discovered in the country, shut down all movement, regardless of whether it is or isn’t, shut them down, you can soon start them up if they discover it’s not.
The second thing they did which compounded the problem was the export ban of meat products from this country stopped which then meant people were marketing stock, taking them to market, nobody bought them because they couldn’t export them so they all took them home.
There would have been perhaps, I don’t know, at least a third less, probably more, at least a.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 third less cases if the movement ban had been brought in three days earlier, you would certainly have had one complete week’s trading of Longtown less and the recounting movements.
QUESTION (Donald Biggar, Affected Farmer and also Farmers Support Group)
Just following on from the consideration that perhaps this virus had spread far before we realised it was here and thinking in terms of its control if and when it returns to these shores, because I am a little concerned, not knowing exactly what the source was and not being convinced or persuaded that there are controls in place that will prevent it arriving on these shores again, that it is perhaps a question of when rather than if.
The last speaker said immediate freeze on animal movements and I think that is absolutely essential.
We were getting a signal from government for the first two weeks telling us that the disease was under control when patently it was not and I think that signal was perhaps very ill conceived.
Could I make what I hope is a constructive suggestion, that not only should movements freeze immediately when the next out case is reported or discovered, but that each and every business be positively encouraged to draw in its horns, to bring stock away from the perimeters of their farms and to be allowed to cross roads to do so for a period of say 24 or 36 hours under suitable biosecurity arrangements because the welfare difficulties that were caused by stock being left on the perimeters of farms, unable to get back, not only contributed to the contiguous spread of the disease but contributed to the huge welfare problems that those whose stock survived underwent.
So I think that we have a practical suggestion there that could possibly assist in future.
Is that view, the drawing in the horns proposal, would that be widely supported by the experience of the people present tonight or not? Almost all are saying yes or nodding positively.
Is that correct? Thank you.
I would just like to support the suggestions that have been made tonight that the local divisionary manager be given authority to act and not in the early part of an outbreak have to continually refer either through to Ayr or Page Street, and there is considerable weight of evidence to suggest that were the DVM in a position to act and slaughter on suspicion, or slaughter dangerous contacts at the beginning, that a considerable amount of the contiguous spread would have been halted.
And finally Chairman, if you will indulge me, science appears to have let us down, our industry did not have a suitable diagnostic test, nor had the debate on vaccination been conducted suitably between 1967 and the present outbreak, they had had plenty of time.
That debate should have been conducted, the situations under which vaccination might have been used ought to have been clearly relayed to us all and then it would have saved a lot of the nonsense and debate that did go on.
Had we had a suitable vaccine and knowledge of the situations when it could have been used, we might well have saved a lot of the nonsense.
I should point out as well there is a Royal Society Scientific investigation as well which is looking in depth at vaccination.
.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
QUESTION (Jim Samson)I think it goes back to the point about the regulations and the whole foot and mouth scenario, I don’t think it has ever been looked at since 1960, or 50 or whenever it was and vaccination comes into that as well.
The message that I was getting from MAFF vets was it wasn’t going to happen, foot and mouth wouldn’t come back to this country, and I have been proved wrong there.
I would just like to say on the point in the regulations, and the gentleman from the community partly spoke about the pyres earlier on, I don’t know if people are aware but when foot and mouth struck the regulations came out and the MAFF vets and personnel there followed the regulations, they could do nothing else, and there actually were drawings of how to make a fire, how to dig the trench, what to use, and that is exactly what they went on.
And unless these regulations are changed, and changed soon, if foot and mouth comes back the regulations will be opened up again and that is all they can go on because that is what MAFF vets, or DEFRA vets are governed by, the regulations, it is like their bible when you open it up, and I very much saw that in evidence.
So I would like to reinforce the point of the inquiry that I think the regulations are the first thing on the agenda that need changed before foot and mouth does come back.
I would just like to say that is not exactly true what you are saying.
What actually happened is that we were not allowed to bury.
It is known we would much rather bury animals than burn them.
Unfortunately the SEPA people get in on the act and they said you can’t bury here, you can’t bury there, and in fact in my contention burial would have been very much safer and I personally believe that quite a few outbreaks were actually transmitted on fires from one pyre, the virus when it goes up in the whoosh at the start, the virus is not destroyed, it is carried downstream and I think that was the biggest cause of spread in the wind was from funeral pyres.
If we had buried, as we were not allowed to do, I think many of the subsequent outbreaks would not have happened.
Do you have any statistical evidence to support your belief in that respect?
QUESTION: I don’t have any statistical evidence but I do have some very good first hand practical evidence which was one of the outbreaks that I actually saw, the farmer had been on his farm on the Saturday morning and he had been in the cowshed when suddenly the yard where the cattle were was filled with smoke.
And he went into the house and his wife said to him: What have you got on your face? And when he looked in the mirror he had cow hair on his face and that was from a fire that had been set fire that morning 4 miles, 7 kilometres upwind.
That was on the Saturday morning and on the Thursday morning the following week I diagnosed foot and mouth disease on that farm.
Now that is anecdotal, it is not scientific, but I think there are quite a few vets who if you take them collectively that result will indicate that the pyres did spread the disease.
QUESTION (Ann Fraser)
I am access for the British Horse Society in Scotland.
My night time job, I also farm and our sheep were culled in the Jedburgh area.
Our industry, the equine industry, was decimated by foot and mouth or the effects of foot and mouth, as many other rural.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 industries were.
How can we prevent this happening again? It was just a blanket disaster, it has affected the economy of the whole of Scotland, not just the rural economy, it has affected the tourist industry, small B and Bs, hotels, many, many businesses throughout Scotland, not just the south of Scotland.
Is anyone going to sit down and see how the effects of foot and mouth can be lessened on other businesses and try and keep the economy going if there is a future outbreak?
Does anybody else want to comment on the wider aspects of this, on business and tourism.
Obviously we will be looking at that.
QUESTION (Roger Hemming)
I work for the Scottish Board as Rural Partnership and as such am responsible for a group of people that travel throughout the Scottish Borders.
It is to do with the access I guess and I would also like to comment as a resident in a small hamlet not that far away from Jedburgh as well, and that is that I feel that in the general community, not the farming community, I am afraid I don’t know a lot at all about farming, but I feel there was a need for much stronger guidance if facts had been known and that it was possible to give guidance to the general community that still either for work or because of where they lived needed to travel around in a place like the Scottish Borders.
I felt as well that I saw various attempts at mats covered in disinfectant and so on and I don’t feel competent to know whether they were useful, scientifically valid or whatever as a method of containing the disease, but a lot of what I saw was very inconsistent and I couldn’t see how it would work and so on and that in a way just sort of compounded a feeling as a general resident in the Scottish Borders that there was a lack of clarity.
I for instance, and I think of myself as quite a thinking sort of person, didn’t know whether I myself was in danger of spreading the disease.
Somehow if you weren’t a farmer and you weren’t a vet but yet you were living possibly surrounded by the disease, you really didn’t know what you could, or should, or should not do.QUESTION (Emma Tennant, Farmer’s Wife, Newcastleton)
I would like to pick up two points, one from the last speaker and one from Donald Biggar.
Donald Biggar mentioned the fact that the government spokesman from the Minister downwards said from the beginning that the epidemic was under control and that brings to mind the incredible atmosphere of dishonesty which surrounded the conduct of this campaign.
I used to live and work in the Argentine, I knew that the epidemic wasn’t under control, I knew how infectious the virus was, and night after night on television news we had Jim Scudamore or Mr Brown, sometimes the Prime Minister, Professor King, it is under control, it is completely under control, it is definitely under control and we felt absolutely insulted and patronised by these lies that we were told.
And furthermore it did a great deal of lasting damage because it meant that we are all now so completely cynical about anything the government says.
It has destroyed trust, trust takes years and years to build up and it can be destroyed overnight, and that is one thing that happened.
And secondly, picking up from the last speaker and connected with the general atmosphere of dishonesty, the appalling lack of true information.
First of all we were told it was under control when it wasn’t, we were told another pack of lies and misinformation as it is now called about vaccination, the pros and cons, I know you.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 don’t want to go into that in detail now.
The information put out by the two NFUs was deplorable, the information put out by the government was deplorable, and what made it all the more extraordinary was that on the internet, which most of us now have, we could see this parallel world of the truth, we could find scientific reports, we could find what was actually happening on the ground, we could find it, after all we don’t live in a police state, although sometimes it seemed like we were, and we felt there was no relationship between what we were being told and what was really happening and what we could find out for ourselves, and most of us did, on this sort of alternative culture of the internet and that to a large extent is still going on and I think that if the government wants to rebuild trust in the rural communities it has got a very, very big job on its hands.
QUESTION (David Findlay)
My contribution tonight is really to give a personal account of the economic impact on myself and my wife’s business.
I am a tenant farmer who has diversified into tourism and manufacturing and earlier in the recovery period we were given a survey form which asked us if we had been culled, partially culled or unaffected, which I find highly offensive.
On the farm we had trading losses of about £20,000 as a direct result of the control methods used for foot and mouth, and in addition we had additional costs of feeding and biosecurity which amounted to £5,000.
In addition to that, because we had a tourist facility, we had to put in additional biosecurity measures which allowed us to access the fields with our dairy cattle without using public accessible areas, which cost us £15,000.
Now altogether that was a net loss to the farming business of £40,000.
Now the tourism side, because we are farm based we were unable to open for the first two months of the year, we lost the Easter business and the May Bank Holiday businesses, that amounted to £50,000.
In addition we took biosecurity measures which cost us £5,000.
Before that we had actually laid off our long term staff of cook and manager of the facility because we didn’t think we were going to be able to open at all.
When we came back to recruiting again we had to go through all the recruiting process and the costs that were involved in that.
We reckoned then that we had a net loss to the tourism business of about £20,000 for the year.
On the manufacturing side, Dumfries and Galloway is one of our biggest market, if not the biggest market, including our own shop, the total loss to the business as a result of foot and mouth was £50,000 again – I am rounding these figures.
In addition, because we were terrified of having a Form D slapped on us, a Form D was a dangerous contact form which we were told by the vets were we issued a Form D all our manufactured produce, which was milk based, would be impounded and would not be released until it had been disinfected, along with all our packaging and all our dry goods and all the materials that were required for manufacturing.
So as a result we had to store all this stuff, all our product, which was frozen, off farm, some of it in Carlisle, some of it in Berwick, we supply supermarkets so there was quite a substantial amount of material, also our dry goods and our packaging were stored off farm, all of these facilities we had to pay for.
We had to weekly, and sometimes daily, transfer this material backwards and forwards off and on the farm to ensure that had we had a Form D put on us that we could continue to trade in some form or other.
So we had a manufacturing turnover loss of £50,000 plus the additional costs of storage and transport of materials of £10,000 giving us a further net loss of £20,000.
Over the total business we lost £80,000.
Now this is a business which myself and my wife, with our own savings, have put together, we don’t have any huge backers, city backers, we don’t have any public funds, we are just a small private business and these.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 losses are substantial.
We employ up to 40 people in the peak in the summer time.
The industry in this part of the world, in all of the rural areas, is very fragile.
This has set our business back at least 2 years, if not longer.
We were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Within the limits that the local enterprise company have been able to help us, they have helped us and we don’t blame anybody, but there has been very, very little help available for rural businesses in this situation.
So my plea is that, whatever recommendations are made in the future for the handling of diseases such as foot and mouth disease, that the impact, the collateral damage to the rural economy is very much taken into account before any action is taken.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us like that, I appreciate it.
QUESTION (Anthony Steel, Local farmer)
I want to repeat a lot of what has been said already actually, particularly Mr Spence’s comment on my right.
Everything was done too late, often two weeks too late.
It was too late to take it seriously, it was too late to stop the movement, it was too late to bring the army in and they were too late to start the culling and they were too late to stop the culling even.
Why are they always too late? Well I think it is because we people don’t accept people who get tough too quickly and that ties in with what else we have heard this evening.
We don’t accept people who get tough quickly because we don’t trust people any more, and we don’t trust people and that is the biggest question you have got to answer, you have got to answer who was it who advised Nick Brown.
And I am sorry Mr Evans, I suspect he was a senior civil servant, who was it who advised Nick Brown? He wouldn’t have said it without being advised.
Who was it who advised him to say: I am absolutely confident we have got this disease under control, on 11 March.
He was so wrong, everyone in this room could see he was wrong, so we didn’t trust him, nobody trusted him.
And I have to say he also said one more thing on 11 March, he said: I am absolutely confident when we review what has happened, as we intend to do, there are going to be some lessons learnt.
Now we really, really, really must learn the lessons learned.
So please Dr Anderson, don’t let us down twice in his statement on 11
Just to reinforce this last comment and the comment by the lady over here about treating the public with respect, I think that is one of the things that didn’t happen in this whole business and I think it is a lesson that is to be learned.
If I can use a rather perhaps unusual but specific example, and it actually refers to one of the other inquiries that is going on, Dr Anderson, and that is the scientific inquiry led by Sir Brian Follett.
I have attended that public meeting in Carlisle in November, I don’t know if anyone else did, I know the lady behind me did and I hope she would back me up in my comments.
The comments I would like to make is that the level of arrogance, and also more worryingly, ignorance brought out of the top table on that night had to be seen to be heard.
These were supposedly eminent scientists and on two occasions separately two of them made statements which they believed to be scientific fact in a practical situation which actually brought gasps from the audience – and I think this lady here would back me up.
And that is a situation that I will have no confidence, having experienced it, albeit at a short term, I would have any little confidence in anything that comes from that inquiry.
And I think particularly as it is a scientific inquiry which is supposed to deal solely with facts,.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 that is a very worrying situation and I think that whole situation applies to a lot of what has happened in foot and mouth, that the public do not like being treated like idiots and it is something we have to get over.
In this situation, and it goes back to a point I made in a previous comment, that we have practical situations on the field that are so removed from the central control and never the twixt shall meet, and they have to meet, we have to improve communication.
QUESTION (William McIntyre, Local Farmer)
I think one of the saddest things through the whole foot and mouth episode is that still to this day I have never seen nor heard an MSP and an MP saying sorry countryside, sorry all rural people for destroying your lives and your ambitions.
This could all have been saved if some MP had stood up one day and said we want food imports into this country controlled.
We imported we reckon this disease through illegal meat imports and not one guy or female has had the courage to say to the countryside we are deeply sorry.
QUESTION (Brian Shaw, Farmer)I am sorry to bring up the aspect of money, but do you know that not everybody gets paid the same amount for the clean-up? We were taken out and we were asked to clean up.
The farm labourers were best placed to clean up because they had more experience.
They have been paid less money than the contractors who came in and anybody else.
I have got documentary evidence to prove it and people will not discuss it with me.
The English have been paid more than twice as much – more than twice as much – and still today they are paid 50% more than we are.
I have got thousands of pounds outstanding and the authorities will not discuss it.
Can you get into the secrets of this and make us aware of what everybody should get.
I just want a level playing field.
You will send me the documentary evidence? Thank you.QUESTION (Joanna Farish, Farmer’s Wife)
If this disease, this virus, came in through imported meat as the government suggests, why did the government have stocks of sleepers and coal already in hand before the foot and mouth was officially notified, and this was true.
All timber yards were contacted as to supplies of sleepers available before foot and mouth and there was coal in transit from Australia before foot and mouth was notified in this country.
I have information that before foot and mouth there were bullets imported as well.
I would just like to know if this is true.CHAIRMAN One of the things that we need to know is that if people have particular bits of information they want to feed in, they do need to let the inquiry have it because obviously we have to work on evidence rather than anecdotes, so again you know the address if you want to send things to Dr Anderson. QUESTION (Hutchison from Moffat).FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
There is no doubt we are all going to look back on this at some point in our lives with different eyes, it is something that has happened which we just have to accept and get on with it.
But the one unsavoury point that I found throughout the whole thing is towards the end of the whole episode when vets were becoming disillusioned, we had 2 or 3 on the farm over a sequence of a period of time and they were completely disillusioned about what was going on.
At the time we had Mr Morley, what did he say, farmers were an ungrateful bunch, Mr Haskins said we had never had it so good, this was at a time when there was something like in excess of 60 suicides had taken place within the industry.
It hasn’t been easy but it has also been said that if it happens again farmers can’t expect so much, and this comes back to the point I made earlier on, as long as our ports are open to this stuff that is coming in, if it happens again who will be responsible, how can we ensure against this when we don’t know what is coming into the country, and I hope the government tighten up on this issue.
I would just like to make the point about the importation of food.
It is very, very easy to stop it.
What is needed are sniffer dogs at all airports and all ports, they can check these people’s luggage as they come through, and in fact it is quite interesting that recently the Royal College had a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister actually said to us it is too expensive to control the food imports.
I always think this is nonsense.
We cannot afford another outbreak like we have had last year and we need, one I think I would strongly recommend to you, Sir, is that you put in that there should be publicity at every airport, at every port.
If you go to most countries in the world they actually tell you don’t bring this in, don’t import this, you are not allowed to import that.
We have nothing, we have still done nothing, there are still no signs at any British airport saying you are not allowed to import meat, and they are not, but they do.
Let me assure you, Sir, that the subject that you are raising is very clearly on our agenda as a major issue for reasons that are obvious from what you say.
I believe however the answers are not so straightforward, it will not be so easy.
I am not suggesting that I am pessimistic about a constructive outcome, I am simply wanting to say to you that it will not be straightforward and that it will I dare say impossible to guarantee that through importation the foot and mouth virus is not introduced to the country again.
How is it then that the United States of America, which borders a country that has foot and mouth disease, has constant imports and exports on a much larger scale than we have in this country and they have not had an outbreak in the United States of America since 1924? They do it by vigilant customs and excise.
If I may just tell you a short story that occurred to me personally, was that I was travelling, in my suitcase I had some vacuum packed bacon, we didn’t normally land in the States when we were going on this journey and as my suitcase was going round the carousel there were two little spaniel dogs sitting on it and they had smelt the bacon, although it was vacuum packed.
I think if we did this in this country we would very quickly stop the illegal importations.
QUESTION (Jeanie Jones, Chairman, Town Hall Management Committee)
It would be helpful for organisations such as ours to know what one should do.
If the outbreak occurred in Lockerbie, we had a meeting and we decided that we would put.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 out a press release saying it was a unanimous decision that there would be no meetings or public gatherings at Lockerbie Town Hall for the foreseeable future.
We had no idea how long it was going to carry on, we said at least until there had been no new outbreaks of foot and mouth within a 10 mile radius for an intervening period of two weeks.
We took this action, we didn’t know whether we should or not, people didn’t know whether they should gather or not, I think it would be helpful if there was information what should happen to schools, public meetings, what ordinary people like the people were saying over in the Jedburgh area who are not directly connected with farming how we should behave, because some people couldn’t care a damn and went places and looked at pyres and possibly could have been spreading things, and people going in and out of infected premises which seemed horrendous, that were seen on television going up and down Lockerbie High Street, there seemed to be no stop.
So advice is needed to the general public as well.
I would just like to change the subject slightly, if I may, because we are coming to the end of the meeting and we haven’t really mentioned the vaccination situation yet.
There was a very large article in the Guardian one day regarding the vaccination of cattle in Argentina and the fact that they had been vaccinating for two years previously and we were still importing large quantities of meat from Argentina, whereupon they were suggesting that the food companies in this country actually suppressed the vaccination programme and were actually threatening to put out bad publicity to stop it happening.
Is the inquiry going to be looking into that? And just to move on from what Mr Findlay was saying about having to spread food packaging all over the country, we also produce traditional farmhouse cheese and we were told we had to destroy all our stocks of cheese made during the outbreak.
Now we found it very hard to stomach that because it takes an awful long time to make a cheese and it is not something you can do in a couple of weeks, and it was only through finding independent advice through the internet, the company which I can no longer remember the name, the international organisation for some bacterial control, we actually got information from them that providing your cheese was below ph5 then it wasn’t possible for the virus to remain.
And it was only when we put that evidence forward to the authorities that they relented, and I think those facts should have been known beforehand.
I can confirm to you that vaccination in general is firmly on our agenda and this specific aspect you raise, the acceptability of vaccinated products, is also firmly on our agenda.
QUESTION (Vet, Lockerbie)
I have listened with a great deal of interest to all the comments, the harrowing stories and for you yourself, Dr Anderson, to listen to weeks of this, you will be a broken man by the end of it because the tales of incompetence and woe are manifold.
Down here we were at the epicentre of the disease and it was particularly harrowing for everybody going around.
I think it emphasised the increasing divide between the largely urban population and the farmers, I think this has come through in many of the comments.
People in any situation didn’t know what to do.
There is so much mobility now, the size of the farms is so great now that it requires mobility, businesses have been built on moving livestock about that it was impossible to stop things quick enough.
I go along completely with Robin and Donald, movements should be stopped immediately on.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
Plans were laid in Dumfries in the 1967/68 outbreak and really with the
transfer to Ayr of authority and with the recent Department of the Divisional Veterinary Manager there, things could not have happened at a worse time.
But to have virtually 3 or 4 centres trying to control the whole outbreak it was just a recipe for disaster.
We got a disaster and what happens then was panic.
The army certainly should have been brought in earlier and I would go along completely with that.
But I would like to put in my tuppence worth about this vaccination.
The Northumberland Report, they looked at vaccination in 1968 and they said it was not a starter at that time.
Foot and mouth vaccination has come on since then but it is still not a tried and tested weapon.
The Dutch had an outbreak soon after ours and they ring vaccinated the outbreaks there and they in fact ended up having to kill the vaccinated animals in case they were carriers of the virus and they ended up killing four times as many head of stock per outbreak as we did.
For about six months during that outbreak it was will we vaccinate or will we not vaccinate, we should have had categorical insistence that we cannot live with this disease, we must exterminate it, therefore we are not going to vaccinate and then have another round of slaughter after that, there was far too much slaughter in the first place, we were not going to go down that road, but they shilly shallied about oh we will vaccinate, we will ring vaccinate, by the time the thing was discovered there were so many outbreaks, it wasn’t a single outbreak, it was about 6 or 7 centres of outbreak and to ring vaccinate it would have been humanly impossible to get the 80% figure of vaccinated stock vaccinated in time if they had the vaccine available.QUESTION: Just to bring things back a little bit, you mentioned access, I am an access officer in the Borders and the problems that we had at the end of the outbreak trying to reopen the countryside, the plethora of signage was uncoordinated, it confused a great number of people.
I don’t blame land owners per se, there were such confusing amounts of information out there that it was bound to bring about this kind of situation, but there is certainly a lesson to be learned in that respect that there is more co-ordination on the signage for people, both those that work on the land and those that want to walk, ride and cycle in the countryside.
QUESTION (Max Hyslop)
Much has been said about so many culls.
The one cull that never took place, which in many of our views should have taken place, was the very one right at the absolute start.
It was a known fact there were foot and mouth diseased sheep in Longtown Mart.
I don’t reflect, neither does any of my farming colleagues, government or anyone giving any directive to follow up on sheep which had been present in that mart going back out on to farm, most of which could have been very readily traced immediately, because if they were booked in and unsold they were taken back home, if they were sold they were also documented.
These sheep went back on to farms in numerous farms in Dumfriesshire and wherever else.
Had these sheep been followed up and destroyed, and any other sheep they were in contact with had been destroyed immediately, those cluster bombs would not have been left there to manifest and go off and spread live virus all over the place.QUESTION (tenant Farmer near Newcastleton)
I would just like to, perhaps the right word would be counter some of the two statements that have been made about vaccination by a previous speaker.
Actually in the 1967.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002 Northumberland Report ring vaccination was recommended and the point that you make about the Dutch using vaccination should be seen in this context I think.
But you are perfectly correct in saying that there were more animals slaughtered that were presumably healthy per infected animal, as in this country.
The fact is that they stopped their outspread within about 10 days, whereas I think we might have taken 10 months.
So this probably isn’t the right forum for a debate on vaccination, but I just thought I would put that on to the record if I may.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for that.
It just allows me the opportunity to say, both with respect to your observations and some earlier observations about the United States, that first of all we are in touch with the United States in an attempt to learn lessons from them.
And in a couple of weeks time Alun Evans and I will be in the Netherlands meeting with all of the Dutch officials who were responsible for managing the strategy in their outbreak.
So I am just emphasising to you that the points you are making are well received and we are doing our best to take as wide a possible view of input as we can.
QUESTION (Juanita Wilson)
There are two matters that haven’t been touched on tonight.
One is the role of the police throughout the crisis.
I was raided by upwards of 30 police at 6.
00 one morning.
Fortunately I had an affidavit which stopped them dead in their tracks.
I have since heard from a lot of police officers that they were furious to be taken away from their normal business of solving crime to be sent to assist with the slaughter of 3 sheep and 14 goats, and that is a matter I think that does need to be addressed, the role of the police in this matter.
And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say that there are people who should have been here tonight who have had enough and couldn’t come.
The depths of human misery that have been plumbed throughout this crisis are unspeakable, people are traumatised, we have already heard of 60 suicides in this room tonight, but there are people who have been so traumatised they will never ever get over what has happened to them.
These are in the main pet owners, but because I am a sanctuary I had a lot of farmers that I had never met who rung me because they had to speak to somebody and would tell me about their herds of cattle and their flocks of sheep and they would be crying, and I would stay strong for them while they were on the phone and then I too would break down.
And my own veterinary surgeon lost a good stone in weight because he was working so hard and counselling people all night.
We must not forget the depths of human misery that this has all caused.
Dr Anderson, you will be well aware that the Northumberland Report ran to two volumes and over 150 recommendations, you have had a lot of free advice tonight and I do hope and I wish you well in trying to steer a clear path through it all.
I do hope that when your report is published and that we all get an opportunity to read it that it isn’t quite such a lengthy tome in that it will be clear and concise and that when the lessons learned need to be revised in the event of the next outbreak that they can be done so quickly so that we do not get so many of the too late solutions that we have heard about tonight.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN.FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY – LOCKERBIE – 14 FEBRUARY 2002
I am sure we share that desire to have a clear readable report.
Is anyone else desperately keen to say something? I don’t think so.
If so, I will hand over to Iain to wind up, but before doing so I should thank everyone for their questions and the very courteous and organised way in which they have asked them, it made my job very easy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would just like to thank you very much for your contribution this evening.
I hope you found from your point of view, although many traumatic and emotional things have come to the surface clearly as I watched the expressions on your faces as you were talking, I hope that you have found our evening together constructive and at least potentially worthwhile.
I certainly have.
You have made a very broad range of important and significant observations.
Many of them link with things that have been said to us in other parts of the country.
One or two are new and very specific to the circumstances of Dumfries and Galloway and that is particularly important and will certainly be followed up.
I share Alun’s observation of appreciation in the way that you have made your points and raised the questions in a very difficult set of circumstances but in a very civilised and proper way.
I appreciate that a great deal, it might not have been like that, I don’t take it for granted.
We are going to do our best and I don’t need to tell you how complex a subject this is, you have told me how complex a subject it is.
It is a very demanding task.
We are determined to get to the bottom of the critical issues, very much in line with the very last remarks made so that in a concise and accessible way we will be able to make really telling recommendations that will make a lasting difference.
And if we cannot altogether make a lasting difference, altogether we will have failed and I don’t, and the inquiry team doesn’t intend to be part of that.
So thank you for coming out.
Wherever you have to go to get back home I wish you a safe journey and goodnight.(END OF TRANSCRIPT)
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