31 October 2001
Foot-and-mouth vets paid no tax

By Adrienne Francis

FOREIGN vets recruited to support the fight against foot-and-mouth disease may have left the country without paying tax, claims the Independent.

An official complaint has been registered with the Inland Revenue, it says.

The National Audit Office is investigating accusations that the government diverted too many vets to the fight against foot-and-mouth.

It is examining whether abattoirs and meat factories were left over-stretched, and unable to meet disease protection standards.

Vets were warning MAFF on a daily basis that they were haemorrhaging staff because of the salaries being offered by government, it is claimed.

Andrew Storrar, president of the Veterinary Public Health Association, has warned that public health could have been put at risk.

We were overwhelmed because we could not compete with these salaries, he said. It was farcical.

Salaries of up to 100,000 were paid to recruit professionals to the fight against the epidemic, the paper says.

The pay offered was, so good that our people abandoned us, said Jason Aldiss, managing director of Evill and Jones, the largest vet contractor.

Some 600 vets are being paid the high rates, even though there have been no cases of foot-and-mouth for the past month, the paper concludes.

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