2 November 2001
Minister is pathetic, says solicitor

By Alistair Driver

A SOLICITOR who represented farmers resisting the foot-and-mouth cull has hit back at government claims that lawyers contributed to the epidemic.

William Neville, senior partner at Bristol solicitors Burges Salmon, said comments by countryside minister Elliot Morley were “pathetic”.

Mr Neville, which represented nine farmers, also refuted Mr Morleys claim that the government had won “almost all” its legal battles with farmers.

The government had withdrawn from seven of the nine cases in which his company represented farmers, Mr Neville said.

The government lost one case outright. Animals on the farms are still alive and healthy. It won the other remaining case and the animals were culled.

Mr Morley had claimed there were a number of instances where disease emerged on farms during the legal action by farmers resisting the cull.

There were over 100 court cases in England alone, almost all of which the government won, he claimed.

“In many cases, the delay this caused allowed the disease to spread and more animals were culled than would have been the case,” said Mr Morley.

But Mr Neville said: “His comments are pathetic. It is a bit rich for the government to turn around and blame farmers and solicitors for the delay.

I never encouraged anybody to do anything. We provided legal advice. I am a lawyer not a campaigner.

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