BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 10 August, 2001, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
Q & A: Foot-and-mouth inquiry
Sir Brian Follett, who will chair the scientific investigation into the foot-and-mouth crisis, answers our questions on the inquiry.

Q: What is the main purpose of your inquiry?

A: The inquiry I am chairing is really science-led and the arguments for it really is that science has not moved on over the last generation sufficiently that we can arm ourselves better and protect ourselves better against attacks from infectious diseases.

Q: The inquiry will not have the power to force people to give evidence.Will that be a problem?


We have nothing in that sense to hide whatsoever in this review

Sir Brian Follett
A: No, not at all for our particular inquiry because ours is a scientific inquiry - ours is not an inquiry asking why wasn't this done or wouldn't it have been done better. We have nothing in that sense to hide whatsoever in this review.

Q: You are heading the scientific inquiry, but do you think there should be a larger public inquiry?

A: What Defra has done is that it says that we would like to have a series of parallel inquiries. The end result will be that by bringing to bear on the whole issue three quite separate committees which have a different sort of focus then perhaps eight months from now we shall be in a position to be able to look forward and then the government can join together, as it were, the sets of recommendations.


public inquiries do take an awfully long time

Sir Brian Follett
One of the aspects of Lord Phillips inquiry - which was a very different sort of inquiry to a disease which was completely new in that sense - we are not dealing with new diseases here and the other thing is that public inquiries do take an awfully long time. So I think the government has made that decision and I was asked if I would chair one of the committees and clearly by accepting to chair one of the committees, I go along with their general thrust.

Q: How much longer do you expect this outbreak to last?

A: There is obviously a tendency for the tail of these outbreaks to go on for a very long time. This is clearly a very unpleasant virus - even amongst foot-and-mouth viruses, this is an unpleasant one. It is obviously proving very difficult to remove, not least, I assume, because it has got into the big sheep flocks. Nice hot, dry weather would help clear it up though.

Q: Do you think that we should have vaccinated?

A: I don't know whether we should have done. I think that is where there is an enormous amount of debate and even the experts disagree. The Dutch decided to use it - we decided not to use it. But the conditions under which the two countries operate are very different and I don't think it would be right at this stage - we should be trying to collect all the evidence. At the end of which it will be possible to say - this is the way we recommend Britain to go in the future - maybe a vaccination, maybe culling.

Q: Do you think culling, on such a huge scale, was a legitimate course of action to take to protect our exports?

A: I would have thought that Defra's desire to have a scientific inquiry which is really looking at what alternatives exist and then recommending the best amongst those alternatives really says that there is a widespread concern - not just held by the press - but by very many people in this country - that the policy which has actually, in all fairness, served the country very well for a century, suddenly seems to have come unstuck in some ways and that the very minimum one should do in thinking about if we were attacked by another foot-and-mouth or a swine fever outbreak is to consider if there aren't alternatives.



Analysis

Background

AUDIO VIDEO

CLICKABLE GUIDES

FORUM

INTERNET LINKS
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes