From The Chronicle 6 June

"Long standing foot and mouth lesions (sores) are being found in sheep nationally, indicating that the disease was probably present before the initial outbreak in Heddon."...
"Along with a number of the veterinary surgeons involved, I have serious doubts over the culling policies being adopted by Government, which makes our work in this outbreak extremely harrowing," he said.

Dr Stuart Renton, who has practised as a vet in Berwickshire for almost 30 years before being seconded to the MAFF team at Newcastle, said: "Long standing foot and mouth lesions (sores) are being found in sheep nationally, indicating that the disease was probably present before the initial outbreak in Heddon." Foot and mouth disease has an incubation period of between two to three weeks after an animal is infected, but in sheep it can remain undetected for much longer.

Dr Renton has been part of the MAFF team diagnosing and overseeing the destruction of animals since taking on a case at Black Callerton, Westerhope on February 26th.

Speaking from the foot and mouth Disease Control Centre at Kenton Bar, Newcastle, he said: "A number of us feel foot and mouth disease was there long before Heddon - it therefore makes it difficult to continue to blame the pig farmer for it.

"We are still getting pockets of infection in sheep which we cannot trace back to Heddon.

"Foot and mouth can lie in sheep undetected for months until they get stressed - like now at lambing time.

"One thing that contradicts everything the Government has said about Heddon is that they denied the Chinese food connection. "Therefore how are they now suggesting it got to the pig farm?

"We must ensure that plenty of attention is drawn to the fact that the infection was in sheep long before it surfaced at Heddon-on-the-Wall. "And I hope you guys in the press get to the bottom of this, because there seems very little movement by the Government to source this disease."

Dr Renton also blasted the Government for its day to day handling of the crisis.
"Along with a number of the veterinary surgeons involved, I have serious doubts over the culling policies being adopted by Government, which makes our work in this outbreak extremely harrowing," he said. "And from day one MAFF has been terribly underesourced to cope.
"I knew when I took on Case number 10 on February 26th that we were on the edge of a disaster and it's being playing catch-up ever since."

MAFF said it was "unfortunate" that one of its vets should choose to speak to the press.

"We will investigate this immediately," said a spokeswoman