Farmers seek funds for virus case

3 January 2002

Farmers seek funds for virus case

By Tom Allen-Stevens

A GROUP of farmers at the Oxford Farming Conference is raising funds for a judicial review in a bid to force a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth.

Robert Persey, a farmer from Honiton, Devon, launched the fund-raising campaign under the slogan “We seek the truth” on Thursday (3 January).

“The government doesnt want a national public inquiry because it doesnt want Tony Blair to have to give evidence,” he claimed.

Mr Persey was supported by a group of about 20 Young Farmers outside the conference centre from Bicester, Aylesbury and Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

The judicial review, to be heard in London next month, will decide whether the government should be forced to hold a public inquiry into the crisis.

Mr Persey said: “We need 1000 farmers and supporters, all wearing campaign T-shirts at the High Court when the case is held.”

A petition for a public inquiry last year attracted 126,000 signatures.

It was backed by FARMERS WEEKLY, Western Morning News, Western Mail, Horse & Hound and The Journal, Newcastle.

Three of the publications, including FARMERS WEEKLY, are underwriting some of the cost of the judicial review to be heard in mid-February.

Mr Persey said he was asking farmers to make donations and buy T-shirts to fund the shortfall, which will only be needed if the case is lost.

The government has refused to hold a public inquiry, saying it would be too costly and take too long. Instead, it has announced a series of investigations.

But Mr Persey said an investigation into the lessons to be learned from foot-and-mouth, chaired by Dr Iain Anderson, would be a farce.

Civil servant servants would be reluctant to anything that could undermine the authority of their bosses, he added.

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