4 April 2001
Papers slam foot-and-mouth ‘fiasco’
By FWi staff
GOVERNMENT policy in tackling the foot-and-mouth crisis is heavily criticised by Britains daily newspapers.
“Day 44: what a shambles”, proclaims the headline in The Guardian above a story listing the Governments “series of errors and misjudgements”.
Claims by Environment Minister Michael Meacher that there would be a public inquiry after the crisis subsides caused embarrassment for Downing Street.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said only: “Mr Meacher is a very fine minister. As I say, no decision has been taken on the form of the inquiry.”
And further evidence of confusion came when officials admitted that almost 900 sheep may have to be dug up and reburied amid fears of water pollution.
The Daily Telegraph accuses the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) of operating a chaotic policy to control the number of foot-and-mouth outbreaks.
It lambasts the ministry for leaving only an answerphone service for farmers to report possible cases, and for “changing the statistics” when it suits them.
It accuses the Ministry of cynically deciding not to publish each days new foot-and-mouth cases until the day after.
Because of this, when Tony Blair went to Dumfries and Galloway last Friday (30 March) he could be more upbeat because the figures had not been added.
If new statistics had been added it would have shown 64 new cases – a record number, says The Telegraph.
Evidence of the lack of co-ordination in the fight against foot-and-mouth is summed up by problems with burials says The Times.
It claims MAFF has been bogged down in arguments with the Department of the Environment over burial sites.
It calls on the departments to agree on figures on animal movements, costs and compensation and “stop quarrelling over burial sites”.
It is reported that former opencast quarry in Northumberland is to be used for the burial of carcasses in the north east of England.
The quarry is a mile south-west of Widdrington, near Ashington, and will be used as a mass burial site for livestock slaughtered in the cull.
Meanwhile, Britains chief scientist David King is expected to tell Mr Blair that Government efforts are starting to have an impact on foot-and-mouth.
Prof King hit the headlines last month when he warned that unless efforts were stepped up half the nations livestock could become infected.
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage