17 August 2001

Regional giants and FW press for full inquiry

Support for a full public

inquiry into foot-and-mouth

is gathering momentum

across the country.

Mike Stones reports

MORE than 2m UK magazine and regional newspaper readers each week will be asked to back calls for a full public inquiry into the handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

farmers weekly has joined forces with Horse&Hound magazine, Cumberland News and three leading regional daily newspapers – The Western Morning News in Plymouth, the Western Mail in Cardiff and The Journal from Newcastle – to press for a public inquiry.

"Never before have so many independent titles come together with one message," said FW Editor Stephen Howe. "Six publications, with a combined weekly readership of 2.1m, all campaigning for a public inquiry into F&M, must make Prime Minister Tony Blair agree to give the country what it wants. Only a public inquiry will guarantee full, unvarnished answers to all the questions surrounding the causes and handling of this devastating disease."

Horse&Hound editor Arnold Garvey said: "A healthy response across all the titles should bring irresistible pressure to bear on the government for a public inquiry into the worst F&M outbreak in memory.

"Our readers are angry about the way the government has handled the crisis. They are particularly concerned about how MAFF, and now DEFRA, has rubbished farming and rural businesses."

Western Morning News editor Barrie Williams added: "Govern-ment officials will not be called to account unless there is a full public inquiry. Unless we learn the lessons of this disaster, there is a danger that F&M will happen again."

The title has already conducted a telephone poll of its readers which revealed massive support for a full public inquiry.

Meanwhile, support for our Say Yes to a Public Inquiry campaign has flooded into FWs office. More than 8000 responses have been received already with one telephone request at the beginning of the week for 2000 extra petition forms. Horse&Hound has received 5000 pledges of support.

Signed petition forms will be delivered to 10 Downing Street next month.