9 August 2001
Opposition hits out at inquiry plans

By FWi staff

OPPOSITION politicians claimed that the governments inquiry will be incestuous after ministers rejected calls for the investigation to be held in public.

Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Tim Yeo criticised the governments refusal to hold a full public inquiry, saying it would do little to rebuild confidence.

Mr Yeo was speaking after Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett cut short her holiday to announce a three-pronged inquiry into foot-and-mouth.

Three inquiries will focus on the governments handling of the epidemic; a scientific review; and a commission on the future of the farming industry.

But Mr Yeo said, “The inquiry process announced today falls far short of our call for a public inquiry, which would rebuild public confidence.”

A public inquiry would “ensure people that the full facts of Labours initial dithering have been uncovered and properly scrutinised,” he added.

“Only a full, independent, public inquiry will hold former ministers to account and uncover the full facts about this terrible epidemic.”

Paul Tyler, leader of the Liberal Democrat foot-and-mouth taskforce, said urgent lessons must be learned if a repetition of the epidemic is to be avoided.

“There must be a speedy investigation of the route by which foot-and-mouth disease came into the UK,” he said.

“An inquiry must satisfy those who have been affected and, to dispel all wild rumours, this inquiry must be held in public.

“No incestuous investigation by the government of its own shortcomings will do,” Mr Tyler added.

“Continual repetition by ministers, that they were only doing the same as their conservative predecessors after BSE, was pathetic and added to farmers fury.”