TWO THOUSAND rural workers have joined forces to sue the government over the foot-and-mouth crisis, reports The Times.

The group is alleging gross negligence in the government‘s handling of foot-and-mouth in 2001.

Lawyers heading the class action will seek full disclosure of official documents at the High Court next month, reports the paper.

The lawsuit will claim that the government did not act quickly enough to stop the movement of animals in Britain once the disease was found.

The lawyers believe the case is so strong that they will be able to seek damages of up to £2bn from the government.

Stephen Alexander, a partner in Class Law Solicitors which is running the lawsuit, told the paper that the government broke European law by failing to stop animal movements on Feb 21, 2001.

“There is no doubt that had they acted in accordance with the directive, the disease would not have spread in the way that it did.”

People who have joined the class action have been asked to pay a sliding fee linked to the size of their claim.

For claims up to £10,000, they contribute £150; for up to £50,000 it is £250 and so on up to £2000 for claims of more than £1million, says the paper.