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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Farmer 'not to blame for outbreak'
Farmer Bobby Waugh
Waugh denies causing suffering to his animals
A pig farmer thought to have been at the centre of the foot-and-mouth epidemic has been told at his trial he is not to blame for the outbreak.

Bobby Waugh, who kept pigs at a farm in Northumberland, denies 16 charges brought against him by trading standards officers.

The charges against 56-year-old Mr Waugh, from Pallion, Sunderland, include failing to report a foot-and-mouth outbreak and feeding unprocessed waste to pigs.

But prosecutor, Paddy Cosgrove QC, told Bedlington Magistrates' Court the blame for the outbreak was not being laid at Mr Waugh's door.

Burnside Farm
Foot-and-mouth disease struck pigs at Burnside Farm
Mr Waugh and his brother Ronald were tenants at Burnside Farm, Heddon-on-the-Wall.

Bobby Waugh denies five counts of failing to notify officials of a foot-and-mouth outbreak and four of cruelty to animals.

He also denies a charge of taking unprocessed catering waste on to premises where pigs are kept, one of feeding unprocessed waste to pigs, four of failing to dispose of animal by-products, and one of failing to record the movement of pigs.

Charges against Ronald Waugh have been left on file because of his ill health.

Mr Cosgrove, told the court there had been "much public speculation" about what caused the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which devastated much of Britain's livestock farming industry.

Referring to the outbreak, he said: "There is no charge laid against Mr Waugh, nor available to be made, which can make such an allegation."

Experienced farmer

The presence of foot-and-mouth among Mr Waugh's pigs was confirmed on 23 February 2001, four days after the disease had been discovered at a meat-processing factory in Essex.

Bobby and Ronald Waugh had 40 years' experience in the industry, the court was told.

They fed their animals with unprocessed catering waste, which should have been treated to kill off disease under the terms of a licence, Mr Cosgrove said.

It was possible to say Bobby Waugh's animals had suffered the disease between one and 12 days, he said.

Waste laws 'flouted'

An experienced observer of pigs such as Bobby Waugh should have noticed the disease in his animals, Mr Cosgrove told the hearing.

He said 80% of the 527 pigs on the farm were found to be infected.

Bobby Waugh had a large amount of unprocessed waste stored at the farm, clearly flouting laws banning such waste at premises where pigs are held, said Mr Cosgrove.

"The only proper conclusion is that at least a significant amount of feed that was being fed to those pigs was unprocessed," he said.

The trial continues.

Click here to go to BBC Tyne Online
See also:

08 Oct 01 | England
Pig farmer pleads not guilty
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