13 June 1997

Compulory dipping change censured

MAFFS decision to end compulsory dipping for sheep scab was criticised by the recorder at Salisbury County Court during a case prompted by the spread of scab to the New Forest for the first time.

Recorder Guy Boney QC described MAFFs decision as a "quirk of logic", while accepting a claim of negligence brought by livestock farmer Nick Daniel against farmer Peter Reynolds for allowing disease ridden sheep to wander the forest and not removing them when asked to do so.

After the hearing, Mr Daniel said he was relieved by the decision. Since taking out the civil case, his farm has been subjected to attacks of vandalism.

Mr Daniel said the case had shown the importance of keeping medicinal and stock records as well as dipping sheep. Costs are to be decided at a later date.

The case could be the last of its kind as MAFFs sheep scab order, which comes into force on July 1, will give local authorities the power to clear scab infected sheep from commons.

John Thorley, National Sheep Association chief executive, said he hoped the legislation would halt the rising tide of scab cases, which had seen the disease endemic in every British county. But he warned it might still be necessary to send in the army to forested areas adjoining commons to flush out scabby sheep.