29 November 1998
Mad cow minister faces BSE Inquiry
By FWi staff
STEPHEN Dorrell, the former Government minister who sparked the beef export ban, will give evidence to the BSE Inquiry in London tomorrow.
Mr Dorrell, who was Tory health secretary from 1995-97, was the first minister to announce that BSE might be passed to humans who ate beef.
Within hours of his statement in March 1996, British beef exports were outlawed under a ban which devastated the UK livestock industry before it was lifted last week.
Mr Dorrell has always maintained that his statement to the House of Commons was based on the advice of the Governments scientific advisers.
“What they have told us is that the risks associated with eating British beef are extremely small,” he told the BBC at the time.
Lord Justice Phillips, who is chairing the inquiry, is likely to ask why Mr Dorrell had previously ruled out a total ban on sales of cattle offal.
Mr Dorrell dismissed such a move in December 1995, only four months before he admitted there was a risk from eating beef.