Mrs Pat Innocent writes about the DEFRA package that arrived containing her "file":My solicitor first came up with this idea, then Jane Barribal reinforced it. You can ask DEFRA for your FMD file. I asked for mine on 29th December by writing to the Chief Vet DEFRA in Gloucester.
I was advised on 4th January that my request had been passed to someone else, then on 9th January I had a letter saying that if I sent a cheque for #10 to Mr D J Waller, Data Protection Officer, DEFRA, Room 546, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square London SW1P 3JR, "he will arrange for you to receive all data that you are entitled to see under the Data Protection Act within 40 days of receiving your payment."
So I did that. On 14th February it thumped through the letter-box.
It was about half an inch thick, a jumble no particular order, many duplicates, and did not give the impression that DEFRA had an efficient filing system
I found what I was looking for: "Mrs Innocent apparently informed a Veterinary Inspector that her sheep had run in the Forest of Dean up to early March 2001. In the opinion of the Veterinary Inspector, these sheep are therefore dangerous contacts and a form A was served on 19 April 2001." I actually told this Veterinary Inspector that I had grazing rights in the Forest. This was not quite the same thing. They had chosen to ignore the things I had said about the animals being isolated and housed, leaped upon this flimsy thing and twisted it round to suit their purpose. This had caused all the trouble. However, if it hadn't been dangerous contacts, they would have tried to get me on the contiguous cull, so it is not worth pursuing.
There was a letter from my solicitor dated 20th April seeking assurance that my animals would not be slaughtered, and Drummond's reply containing THE LIE and she "would be very grateful if you would ask Mrs Innocent to let me know whether she wishes a valuer to be appointed, or whether all her stock can be valued in accordance with the Foot and Mouth Disease Order......If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me."
"MAFF Veterinary Officer Franceska Drummond (second in command, MAFF Gloucester) replied on the same day stating that para 3 of Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act is triggered and explained why MAFF believe culling susceptible animals was vital to prevent further spread of the disease.
"Ms Drummond then asked for a vet and slaughter team to visit the following day".
Then a fax from Drummond to Page Street (Fred Landeg) "Are you happy for letter to be sent and for us to go ahead with visit to value and kill tomorrow?"
This still had the power to send a chill through me. I found the Veterinary Inspector's report - 2 copies of this: "sheep have run in Forest up to early March. Opinion high risk. 3/4/01. Borax- sensitive!" I presume this remark was because this woman told me borax could mask the symptoms of FMD. My sister is a homoeopath, and said no homoeopathic remedy would do this.
Here's the next vet assessment: "sheep are housed and kept isolated. Risk assessment low. Disease status negative. 18/4/01."
Then a dangerous contact declaration signed by Drummond dated 27th July. (Odd).
Then a report (2 copies) from the slaughter vet: "The policy of disease control and the need to remove potential/all sources of infection, which may in future infect new stock introduced into the area, was discussed. Mrs Innocent argued points regarding exposure to disease and testing of animals. As a state of non-co-operation was established, I withdrew from the property at 12.05."
Drummond to Page Street (3 copies of fax): "Large number of protesters were in the lane. (About 35, actually). Please advise on next action."
Drummond (hand-written note, does not say to whom) "Should this now be passed to (unreadable) for her team to persue? 21/4"
Then a threatening letter to me: "If co-operation with the second assessment is not forthcoming, the cull will proceed. Refusal to co-operate with, or obstruction of, an officer is an offence under the Law, and can result in prosectuion (sic)."
A letter from my solicitor requesting the cleanliness.or otherwise of the vet who came to slaughter. This was never replied to.
4 forms with nearby infected premises' addresses blanked out.
Then a 2nd assessment report - (this vet was great - no complaints here): "I believe that these sheep could not have had nose to nose contact with animals roaming free outside the boundaries of her property after January 2nd." Also my diagrams (2) of the sheep housing and a large-scale map of my property with such details as gates.
Piece of paper stating "It has been decided to test the sheep of those holding out against slaughter. Neil 13/5/01." No idea who this was to, or who Neil is.
Then a report from the vet who came round to talk me into having blood tests. (She thought I had 6 sheep - didn't she look at the records?) She complained that she had made 4 calls from 9-12 but I was out. (I wasn't, but must have been with the animals or on the land. How dare she complain after they had kept me in terror and isolation for weeks, that I was uncontactable for the three hours that she deigned to try?) Then she complained that I did not get in touch during the next 48 hours. (Happily agree to this: I wanted to get REAL information about blood tests before agreeing, not MAFFinformation. Thank you, Alan!). Then she came round and spoke to me, and I got the hard sell. This is where she said they were going from farm to farm taking blood without waiting 72 hours. When I complained, she told me not to tell her how to suck eggs. She omitted this bit in her report! Then she saw fit to add "Mrs Innocent wants 72 hours clean" as if it was unreasonable.
Then a draft letter for vets to show to farmers refusing access for blood sampling. It Includes the threat of a #5000 fine and a month in prison. I didn't actually get this because I agreed to blood tests on the grounds that I had previously been asking for them, everyone else was coming back negative, I had back-up blood tests, and it would get them off my back.
A form with 7 of us on it, 3 reprieved on the 2nd assessment (including me), 4 injunctions applied for - these were bled under Morley's instructions.
Letter from Drummond (3 copies): "I am very pleased that you have agreed to have your flock blood sampled."
A hand- written sheet saying I will be responsible for vet's fees for the second blood tests I was demanding. This is repeated several times, like #20-odd is the main issue.
A report of bleed visit stating "no sign of fmd" 19/6. This was carried out by the vet who did the second assessment. I had come to trust her.
5 letters saying "Thank you for your letter which is receiving attention."
16 copies of faxes to Police, 3 of which are different.
2 copies of form D MAFF to GCC.
Form A, Form B (with a note from David Parker saying (no risk, issue form B), Form D, Form E, sheets from my movement records, my vet and med book.
A form changing the date of form E on DCS to 13/7/01 "to coincide with paperwork". (What else have they changed in retrospect?)
A sheet saying "KEEP AS TOP DOC", then "CONFIRMED OUTBREAK - CHECK LIST", with "entered onto DCS, Vetnet & Database" and "Forms A and B" ticked. This form includes such things as "instruction to value and slaughter" (not ticked), confirmation of completion of disposal, payments to contractors.
There were no copies of correspondence from Page Street. Obviously this is not something we are allowed to know. Why not?
There was an air throughout that they were trying to carry out their job properly, and who was this awkward woman trying to stop them? I was not someone to be communicated with - they would decide what was to be done amongst themselves, and then do it to me. They seemed to have no idea of the terror and trauma they were leaving in their wake, and didn't seem to question what they were doing.