20 August 2001
Farmers meet for London protest

By Isabel Davies

FARMERS are gathering in central London to march on Downing Street to demand a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Between 2000-3000 protesters are expected to meet at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park on Monday (20 August) before marching to Tony Blairs residence.

Campaigners, marching under a banner of “FMD Alliance”, will then deliver a petition containing thousands of signatures.

This will call for a full public investigation into the governments handling of the epidemic, and for vaccination to move back up the political agenda.

Organiser and Farmers For Action chairman David Handley told FWi on Monday morning that he expected support from across the country.

“Last night the reports were good,” he said. “We are expecting coaches from Cumbria, a couple from Devon and Somerset, another couple from Staffordshire and elsewhere.”

Mr Handley admitted he had been criticised over the weekend for trying to get farmers together in one place, as it might lead to the spread of the disease.

But he denied this would be the case. “I am fed up with farmers being so negative,” he said.

“If farmers shouldnt be gathering, then why have the county shows been allowed to go ahead, and why has Tony Blair said the countryside is open?

“Its double standards,” insisted Mr Handley.

He said the FMD Alliance wanted vaccination to be reconsidered because many people did not agree with the National Farmers Union stance on this issue.

NFU president Ben Gills claims that the farming community was against vaccination were not correct, he said.

“Ben Gill has overstepped the mark this time,” he said. “He doesnt represent my views and I dont think Im on my own with this.”

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Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage