BSE experts at Weybridge are examining data from Paris amid fears that the disease may have emerged in a French goat.

Scientists have long argued that this is theoretically possible, since large numbers of sheep and goats were fed with meat and bonemeal, thought to be responsible for BSE in cattle.

The animal was slaughtered in 2002 as part of an EU surveillance programme. French scientists identified it as having a form of TSE different from scrapie.