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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 17:09 GMT
Chief vet: Controlling a crisis
Jim Scudamore
Jim Scudamore has become a household name
The man charged with eradicating foot-and-mouth disease in Britain has been catapulted into the limelight since the crisis began more than a month ago.

The government's chief veterinary officer, Jim Scudamore, who has been in his position since taking over from Keith Meldrum in April 1997, has been praised for his no-nonsense approach in dealing with the outbreak.

A tractor passes through disinfectant at Hexworthy farm on Dartmoor National Park
Desperate measures as all vehicles are disinfected

But, despite being no stranger to foot-and-mouth - he worked alongside the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the 1967 outbreak - even he has been taken by surprise at the virulence of the latest outbreak.

A respected veterinary scientist, Mr Scudamore has found himself in front of the cameras almost every day since the crisis began.

He has presided, sometimes solely, over lengthy press conferences.

Mr Scudamore graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1967 with a veterinary science degree.

He also has a degree in genetics from the same university.

After helping Maff during the 1967 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, he moved to Kenya in 1968 where he worked until 1974.

He then moved to the State Veterinary Service, working in Itchen Abbas and Taunton and eventually at the SVS HQ at Tolworth, in Surrey.

Between 1990 and 1996 he was chief veterinary officer for Scotland.

Mr Scudamore is now charged with controlling a disease which seems to be spreading out of control across the British countryside.

He is directing operations from his desk at Maff in London.

Delicate negotiations

He has been charged with making often controversial decisions and has been forced to tread a delicate line between the government and farmers.

Earlier this week he was subjected to a slow hand-clap by a group of angry Cumbrian farmers as he was trying to explain why their healthy livestock needed to be slaughtered.

He has also had to give difficult and often unpopular advice to Agriculture minister Nick Brown.

Mr Scudamore has certainly had to muster his considerable diplomatic skills in dealing with the crisis to which there seems to be no end.



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21 Mar 01 | Europe
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