13 November 1998
‘Conservative Government rejected BSE inquiry’

THE former Conservative cabinet rejected calls for a judicial inquiry into bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), despite a plea by the then agriculture minister that public demands could become “irresistible” for such an investigation.

When agriculture minister, Douglas Hogg recommended an inquiry two days before the Government disclosed the BSE link to humans, according to MAFFs most senior civil servant, who drafted the ministers position.

Richard Packer, who was giving evidence to the BSE inquiry, also said that the former Conservative Government rejected the proposal to withdraw all beef from shops following the discovery of the BSE link.

He rejected suggestions by Sir Kenneth Calman, the former chief medical officer, that the ministry had been complacent about the failure by abattoirs to ensure that no potentially infected animal parts entered the food chain.

Mr Packer admitted that a Food Standards Agency might have helped in handling the BSE crisis. The current Government has withdrawn proposals for such an agency from next years legislative programme.

  • FWi Newslines – BSE
  • The Times 13/11/98 page 7
  • Financial Times 13/11/98 page 8
  • The Daily Telegraph 13/11/98 page 14