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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Q&A: Anderson inquiry

BBC News Online answers the questions that follow on from the Lessons To Be Learned report into the 8bn foot-and-mouth disaster in the UK.

What is the Anderson inquiry's main recommendation?

The government needs a new "national strategy" to help contain any future animal health outbreak.

Why?

The report highlights "gaps" in the plan in place at the onset of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in February last year.

What gaps?

A "limited" knowledge of farming practices contributed to the spread of the disease.

How?

The first responses to the early cases were not fast enough or effectively co-ordinated. The paramount importance of speed, and especially the rapid slaughter of infected animals, was not given overriding priority early on.

Q: What was the government's biggest mistake?

Large parts of the farming and wider rural community became "mistrustful of government" after it failed to recognise the impact of the outbreak on tourism and the rural economy. Former agriculture minister Nick Brown also lost the trust of the public by saying the disease was under control when it was not.

Q: Was government strategy influenced by electoral considerations?

The inquiry "found no evidence to support such a suggestion".

Q: So why did the government not get it right?

Ministers were facing a virtually unprecedented situation and had to make decisions under intense pressure, according to the report.

Q: Should the Army have been deployed earlier?

A: There is "no obvious answer" to this question, but soldiers should be called in as soon as possible to help contain any future outbreak.

Q: What about vaccination?

A: The report rules out the routine inoculation of healthy animals but says emergency vaccination should "be an option available".

What about the burning of animals on mass pyres?

These "remain vivid images of the 2001 epidemic", but the report recommends pyres should not be used in a future outbreak.

What about movement restrictions?

The government should retain the 20-day standstill rule preventing livestock movement "pending a detailed risk assessment". The report also recommends the government uses electronic tags to track cattle, sheep and pigs.

How can a future outbreak be prevented?

The government should continue to ban the feeding of swill containing meat-catering waste to animals.

On what information are the recommendations based?

Chaired by Dr Iain Anderson CBE - a former adviser to Tony Blair - the inquiry included a series of public meetings in areas worst hit by the disease and the questioning in private of government witnesses.



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22 Jul 02 | Politics
22 Jul 02 | UK
16 Jul 02 | N Ireland
16 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
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