'For evil to triumph all that is required is that good men do nothing'
Mrs. E. Jane. M. Barribal & Associates.
2 - Howpark Farm Cottages - Grantshouse - Duns - Berwickshire - TD11 3RP
'DON'T PRE-JUDGE the JUDGE!' - 16th June 2001
As I may have mentioned before, strange bits of information come my way quite unsolicited.
Yesterday, the document published below, landed in my 'In tray'.
I read it, forwarded it to a lawyer and then called him. Perhaps it's not surprising that his reaction was one of shock and horror. I try to keep calm in these circumstances and although at first glance myself, I had been concerned, his legal mind more than confirmed my suspicions. Nevertheless, a felt a Barrister's opinion would be a wise move and sought one. Again my fears were confirmed.
This document from the Deputy Director of Foot and Mouth Operations at Headquarters is a brief to provide Regional Operations Director's and other officials with information. However the information would seem to have serious flaws.
This document appears to incite MAFF/DEFRA employees to intimidate farmers into not resisting their slaughter policy, even in cases where there might well be legitimate grounds to do so.
Although quoting two Court Judgements, (Winslade and Jordan), and a further case, (Baines), withdrawn, the document fails to mention that each case is judged on its own merits. A very important point. We all have a right to have our particular case heard and judged in a fair Trial. I don't know why in the case of Baines it was withdrawn by the defendant, but I do know that in the cases of Winslade and Jordon, no alternative 'expert evidence' was offered to the Judge. A very important point. As without alternative 'expert evidence' there was no alternative for him but to find in the Minister's favour. It is interesting to note that in all previous cases when 'expert evidence' has been offered, MAFF have withdrawn their action and so no Judgement was obtained.
Furthermore, I understand that in at least one of the cases mentioned, the costs were not laid at farmer's door. The Judge deciding that he had suffered enough.
There also appears to be another serious error in the document, namely a misquoting of the legislation. The Animal Health Act 1981, Schedule 3, Para 3 actually says. "The Minister may, if he thinks fit, cause to be slaughtered any animals which appear to the Minister to have been in any way exposed to the infection of Foot and Mouth Disease".
You will note that the document quotes differently, the word 'may' being the replacement for 'to'. There is surely quite a difference between animals that one suspects 'may have been exposed' to ones that 'appear to have been exposed'.
The act being far more specific than the document. It is one thing for MAFF/DEFRA to provide its officers with information; it is another thing to suggest that they seek to deter affected persons, who may be in a very vulnerable position, from exercising their right of access to the Court.
I leave you to judge for yourselves if this document is an accurate brief or falls within the bounds of the Law. Meanwhile I strongly advise any Farmers or Pet owners, intimidated in any way by Government officials, to contact me. I will put them in touch with Lawyers prepared to advise on each individual case and act on their behalf.
In my youth, I was fortunate to meet the late Judge Dankwaerts, a friend of my family, and am mindful of his words, albeit during the banter of a mild family argument." Don't pre-judge the Judge!" Perhaps the Government should also remember them!
The Document that is the subject of this article follows:
Annex 1 to FIN 2001/170 08 June 2001
BRIEFING ON HIGH COURT JUDGMENTS ON CONTIGUOUS CULLING POLICY
The purpose of this brief is to provide RODs and other officials with information to enable them to seek to discourage farmers from resisting MAFF's slaughter policy by citing the favourable judgements of the High Court. The strong possibility that farmers will be liable for MAFF costs in future cases should also be used as a deterrent.
Judgements of the High Court on MAFF contiguous culling policy.
7 The High Court has decided that the Minister has the power to slaughter an animal he thinks has in any way been exposed to FMD .
7 The Minister's powers are not constrained by EU law, which sets out the minimum reaction required of a member state-
7 One farmer has already withdrawn his case in the light of previous judgements.
7 It is highly likely that in future cases, MAFF will be awarded costs if successful.
Deputy -Director FMD Operations HQ