09 March 1998
Judge given extra six months for BSE findings
By FWi staff
A REQUEST by the judge heading the BSE inquiry to extend the investigation for a further six months has been granted by government.
Opening the year-long inquiry today, Appeal Court Judge Lord Justice Phillips said a six month extension was necessary because of the pile of evidence his team must sift through. He was originally expected to hand down his findings by December 30.
Lord Justice Phillips said after considering the amount of work to be done he doesnt think he would be able to submit an accurate and comprehensive report in the time frame allocated.
“I am not prepared to contemplate a report that is superficial because it has been too rushed, and I dont believe that those who are anxiously looking forward to receiving this report would wish us to sacrifice thoroughness for speed,” he said at todays opening.
Dr Jack Cunningham, agriculture minister, said in the House of Commons today: “After considering the volume of material to be accessed and the complexity of the issues under review, the inquiry has requested an additional six months in which to complete its work. The Government has agreed, and set a revised date for delivery of the inquirys report of June, 30, 1999.”
The inquiry – expected to cost over £2m – is already tipped to be one of the largest and most expensive ever held.
It was set up to establish and review the history of the emergence and identification of BSE and new variant CJD, the human equivalent of mad cows disease, in Britain.
The inquirys remit was to also examine the actions of past and present ministers, civil servants and the food and farming industries in response to the emergence of BSE.
The disease has killed more than 170,000 cattle in Britain and has been linked to the deaths of 23 people.