Dear Mr Blair…

7 December 2001

Dear Mr Blair…

THIS is the covering letter which will accompany the more than 112,000 signatures collected in support of a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis:

The Rt Hon Tony Blair, MP,
House of Commons,
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Blair,

The international situation has, we appreciate, concentrated much of your attention on foreign affairs and domestic security.

We believe, however, that now is the time to build upon the work of the three independent inquiries into foot-and-mouth and farming and the countryside.

Only a public inquiry, with the power to compel witnesses to give evidence, and open to public scrutiny, can reveal the valuable lessons that must be learned if such a disaster is not to be repeated.

Only the openness of a public inquiry will allow those, whose lives have been shattered by the tragedy of foot-and-mouth, to face the future with confidence.

Farmers, hoteliers, rural business people, animal rights campaigners – all have burning questions about the origins and handling of this crisis.

Only a public inquiry can provide the free and frank information they need to put the trauma of this year behind them.

In addition to all the human and animal suffering, as well as the bns of damage suffered by our agriculture and tourist industries, we believe holding a public inquiry would make a major contribution to national security.

British Veterinary Association vice-president David Tyson has several times warned that lax meat import controls could pose a terrorist threat if they were used to disguise biological weapons.

Leading scientists also believe illegal meat imports may have been responsible for Februarys outbreak of foot-and-mouth.

Only a public inquiry will uncover the truth and re-assure the public that our controls are sufficient to the challenge facing them.

To canvass support for a public inquiry farmers weekly has joined forces with leading regional newspapers: Western Morning News in Plymouth; The Western Mail in Cardiff; The Journal in Newcastle and Horse & Hound magazine.

Together we have collected more than 112,000 pledges of support for a public inquiry.

The editors of the five titles would very much appreciate the opportunity to present these signatures to you at Downing Street and to discuss the strength of opinion which supports a public inquiry.

We do hope that you will be able to find time within your busy schedule to accommodate our request.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Howe, Editor, FARMERS WEEKLY

On behalf of:

Neil Fowler, Editor, The Western Mail, Cardiff

Arnold Garvey, Editor, Horse & Hound

Ged Henderson, Editor, The Journal, Newcastle

Barrie Williams, Editor, Western Morning News, Plymouth

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