BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
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
Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Ministry 'shares culpability for disease'
Waugh's farm in Heddon-on-the-wall
NFU: "Serious questions" about Waugh's farm
A farm at the centre of the foot-and-mouth outbreak should have been closed after earlier complaints about its standards, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has claimed.

It said Bobby Waugh's farm was already known to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and trading standards officers, who "have a share of the culpability" for the scale of the outbreak.

NFU spokesman Anthony Gibson told BBC News: "They had several opportunities to close it down, to do something about it, and they failed to."

He also said there was something seriously wrong for the disease to go unreported for so long at the farm run by Waugh, who was found guilty of five charges of failing to tell officials his animals were ill.

'Diseased meat'

The procedures needed to prevent the outbreak of foot-and-mouth had been in place, but the failure to apply them properly had been catastrophic, he added.

Anthony Gibson
Anthony Gibson said Waugh's farm should have been closed
"Where you have units that clearly are failing to achieve reasonable standards, then you do have to take very firm action to prevent this sort of thing happening," he said.

The NFU said there were also serious questions to ask about how the disease got to Waugh's farm.

He said: "Someone was to blame for allowing presumably a piece of diseased meat to come into the country in the first place and that's got to be looked at very hard as well."

Livestock markets

What stopped Waugh from calling in officials when he spotted the disease in his livestock was difficult to know, Mr Gibson said.


we will continue to investigate any farms which fall short of the animal health and welfare standards required by law

Trading standards
But he was clear the delay of several weeks allowed foot-and-mouth to spread across Britain before it was discovered at an abattoir in Essex.

Mr Gibson said: "Had it been reported as soon as it arrived in that unit the outbreak would have been vastly smaller, vastly less disastrous and vastly less expensive than it actually was."

The delay, he said, allowed the virus to spread from Waugh's pigs to sheep on adjacent farms and then livestock markets across Britain.

Other farmers would support the verdict and very few others were guilty of the poor standards kept by Waugh, the NFU said.

'Serious offence'

The Trading Standards officer who led the investigation against Waugh said outside court that Northumberland County Council had never intended to blame Waugh for last year's outbreak.

Mick King said the council was satisfied with the verdict, adding: "Our aim in bringing this prosecution has been to uphold the high farming standards we have in Northumberland.

"We have and we will continue to investigate any farms which fall short of the animal health and welfare standards required by law."

Mr King refused to comment on Maff's role in licensing the farm.

But he said distressing scenes of animal neglect were found on Waugh's farm and his failure to reveal the presence of the disease was "the most serious offence which anyone can commit in farming".

'Unchallenged'

Cattle farmer Henry Dart told BBC News that Waugh's actions had serious implications for the industry.

But he said many farmers would feel some sympathy for him because foot-and-mouth was probably in the country "way before" it was discovered on Waugh's farm.

Mr Dart added: "I think where the problem stems from is probably the imports of meat coming from countries which are still endemic with foot-and-mouth, which this government seems quite content to allow in unchallenged."


Click here to go to Tyne


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 England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England 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