14 August 2001
Noel backs public inquiry protest

By John Burns, south-west England correspondent

TV CELEBRITY Noel Edmonds is supporting a protest march on Downing Street over the governments refusal to conduct a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth.

Pressure groups plan to gather in London under the banner “FMD Alliance” to deliver petitions with thousands of signatures on Monday (20 August).

Protesters still hope to persuade the Prime Minister to order a public inquiry, despite the announcement of three independent inquiries last week.

The march is the result of a meeting of numerous foot-and-mouth protest organisations called by grassroots producers group Farmers For Action.

These include the “Heart of Devon” group started by Noel Edmonds, who is best known as host of the popular Noels House Party television show.

A Heart of Devon spokeswoman said business commitments prevented Mr Edmonds from attending the march but added that he had given his support.

Other protestors inspired by the Heart of Devon group will travel from Cumbria, Yorkshire and Essex to attend the protest march.

Farmers for Action chairman David Handley said marchers would assemble at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, from noon and then march to Downing Street.

Devon FFA co-ordinator Maurice Vellacott added: “This is not a group of crazy farmers and weirdos from the backwoods.

“This is an alliance of sensible, like-minded people from across the whole range of society who simply want to know the truth.

“We want to make sure that the awful things they have experienced or witnessed can never be allowed to happen again”.

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