Government prepares public inquiry

1 August 2001

Government ‘prepares public inquiry’

By FWi staff

THE government is preparing for a full public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis, claims a Labour member of the Commons Agriculture Committee.

David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, said on Channel 4 News he had been told by the government that a public inquiry would be held.

He told the programme: “They are telling me there will be a public inquiry and they want that public inquiry to be set out properly.”

Mr Drew said he had been informed that the inquiry will only take place when the current foot-and-mouth disease outbreak is at an end.

It was difficult for Tony Blair to announce an inquiry when cases of the disease were being confirmed and “things could always get worse,” he said.

The Prime Minister has previously rejected calls for a public inquiry, telling the House of Commons: “I dont agree that it has to be a public tribunal.”

But pressure is mounting for a full-scale investigation into the crisis.

A poll on FWi has received more than 1000 votes calling for a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth. Fewer than 10 responses opposed an inquiry.

Former Prime Minister John Major also wants a public inquiry.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Major accuses Mr Blair of deceiving the public about the full-scale of the epidemic.

“It was a glaring example of misinformation,” he writes, calling on Mr Blair to commit himself to a public inquiry “without delay”.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has accused ministers of giving the impression that vets did not want a public inquiry.

RCVS past president Bob Mitchell and Barry Johnson, a vet from Preston, Lancashire, set out their grievances in letter to The Veterinary Record.

They say they are “concerned at repeated misrepresentations in Parliament” over what the college called for in a motion they tabled.

“It unambiguously called for an independent inquiry once the outbreak is over, modelled on the Northumberland report into the 1967-68 outbreak.”

Mr Johnson told The Telegraph that this did not need to be like the expensive and lengthy Phillips Inquiry into BSE.

In its editorial, The Telegraph says the governments continued refusal to hold a public inquiry makes it look as though it has something to hide.


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