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BSE and CJD Monday, 9 October, 2000, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Lord Phillips: Chief inquisitor
Lord Phillips: Searching for the truth
The chairman of the BSE inquiry, Lord Justice Phillips, made it clear at the outset of the investigation in 1998 that he did not intend apportion blame for the BSE crisis.

Instead he said he hoped to uncover the facts that led to the emergence of both BSE and its human equivalent CJD.

''This is an extremely important Inquiry. Many people have been affected, some tragically, by BSE and CJD," he said

"I hope this Inquiry will reveal the events and decisions which led to the spread of these diseases.

"The Inquiry wishes to understand the facts, to establish whether the action that was taken was adequate, and to see what lessons can be learnt."

Nicholas Addison Phillips, aged 62, was appointed Master of the Rolls of the Court of Appeal in June 2000.

During his career as an appeal court judge, has presided over several lengthy and complex trials including that of the Maxwells and Barlow Clowes.

He was made a Law Lord in January 1999 and his full title is Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers.

A popular judge among lawyers, he pioneered the use of computer technology in the courtroom and is well-known for cycling to and from court.

Mass of evidence

He launched the inquiry on 12 January 1998 and along with two others on the inquiry panel - genetics expert Professor Malcolm Ferguson-Smith and civil servant June Bridgeman.

Lord Phillips presided over the collection of more than 3,000 lever arch files full of documents.

The inquiry received written evidence from more than 600 witnesses and heard oral statements from more than 300 witnesses, including former ministers, scientists and families of CJD victims.

Citing the mountain of evidence and keen for the BSE issue to be investigated "fully and fairly", Lord Phillips asked for the original June 1999 deadline to be extended 31 March 2000. This was later extended by a further six months to September 2000.

He caused a hiccup in proceedings when he was called away in January 1999 to join six other Law Lords hearing an appeal by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

At the time a BSE inquiry spokeswoman played down the setback, pointing out that Sir Nicholas was available to work in the evenings and that the two other panel members were continuing to sift through the evidence.

Lord Phillips finally handed over the completed report to the government on 2 October 2000.


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