5 April 2002

F&Minquiry hopes rising

By Mike Stones

HOPES of overturning a High Court decision that a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis was not needed have been revived after the deadline for an appeal against the ruling was extended.

Lord Justice Simon Brown extended the deadline from Thur, Mar 28, to Fri, April 19. Last month, after a judicial review hearing, the High Court ruled the government was right not to hold a public inquiry (News, Mar 22).

Law specialist Tim Russ said an appeal could be mounted for about £60,000. "We need about £10,000 to prepare our application for permission to appeal the High Court ruling and about £50,000 to finance the appeal itself," said Mr Russ of West Country Law firm Clarke Willmott Clarke, one of three law firms to apply for the judicial review held in February.

No-win, no fee

Legal action was conducted on a no-win, no-fee basis by Mr Russ firm and Richard Lissack QC together with Cardiff-based Gabb and Co and Bristol firm Burges Salmon. But after losing the judicial review, funding from the public would be necessary to continue the legal challenge, said Mr Russ. "Its a lot of money for most working men but not for a whole industry if many people donated money."

Law Lords

If permission was granted from the Court of Appeal, an appeal would be heard by three law lords at the High Court in London. "If we win an appeal, I think there is a 50:50 chance of persuading the law lords that the government was wrong not to hold a public inquiry," claimed Mr Russ.

Meanwhile the BBC, which intervened in the judicial review to supply evidence in favour of a public inquiry, is still deciding whether to back an appeal. "The BBC is still considering its position," said a spokesman who refused to rule out the prospect of the corporation contributing cash to an appeal fund.

&#8226 If you would like to help fund an appeal, please contact Tim Russ (01823-445218). Any money collected but not needed for the challenge will be donated to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. &#42