DEFRA’s plans to share information have been described as a breach of trust by the CLA.
Proposals could see information collected by DEFRA under the pretext of increasing protection against avian flu released to a much wider audience.
CLA president, Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, says that the proposal flies in the face of all the assurances sought – and given – about the use of the data collected on the GB poultry register.
The poultry register was, he said, created for the specific purpose of helping with the response to a potential outbreak of avian flu. But it also brought together detailed information about a wide range of individuals involved in the poultry and game industry into a single database. Mr Aubrey-Fletcher said that for DEFRA to even suggest that such detailed and personal information should be made available to a whole range of public authorities would create a huge amount of ill feeling.
“At the time we emphasised the point – over and over again – that people would only agree to participate if DEFRA promised that the information provided would not be used for anything else and we were happy to both support and promote the register on that basis.
“Now DEFRA has issued a consultation in which it suggests sharing this ‘valuable resource’ with other government departments and public bodies – including Natural England, Trading Standards and the Revenue – which hasn’t shown itself to be particularly careful with the confidential information recently.
“If it wasn’t necessary for all these government departments to have all this information before bird flu came along, it is difficult to see why it is now,” he added.