18 February 2000

BSEInquiry deadline put forward again

THE deadline for the final report into the BSE Inquiry has been extended by another six months after a request by inquiry chairman Lord Phillips.

Lord Phillips has negotiated his third extension after telling ministers that he will not be able to deliver the report by March 31.

The complexity and size of the report meant it was taking longer than expected to complete, he said.

"We want to produce a clear and readable account of the BSE story that sets out our key findings, conclusions and recommendations.

"The rigorous appraisal of complex and detailed evidence that is necessary for sound and fair conclusions is a heavy task and one that is taking us longer than we anticipated," he said.

The inquiry, set up in December 1997, was initially given a year to complete its work but this was extended in March 1998 and again in February 1999.

The extra time is not expected to take the final cost for the inquiry above its existing budget of £16m.