18 February 2000

Cheries Valentine from pig industry

CHERIE Blair, the Prime Ministers wife, received a red rose and a Valentines Day card from an unlikely source on Monday – pig farmers manning the industry vigil in Parliament Square.

Politicians and tourists visiting the Houses of Parliament were also met with the sight of pig farmers modelling a T-shirt carrying the "romantic" slogan, "Pork: The One You Love".

"We have found it is the silly things that have raised the media profile of the vigil, such as naming our pig Cherie and giving the Prime Minister a wheelbarrow of pig manure for his garden," said vigil organiser, Jane Guise.

But she emphasised that the story behind holding the vigil – designed to raise public awareness of the industry plight and to pressure the government into helping – could not be more serious.

The industry wants about £270m compensation for the "BSE tax". This is being pursued separately by the British Pig Industry Support Group, which lodged affidavits at the High Court on Wednesday as part of legal action to force farm minister, Nick Brown, to compensate the pig industry.