Papers tell of Defra virus farce

25 September 2001

Papers tell of Defra virus ‘farce’

By FWi staff

THREE of Britains newspapers report that blunders by employees of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) could have helped to spread the foot-and-mouth virus.

Former Defra official Brian Munro, who worked as a field officer from June to August, was shocked by the incidents involving poor disinfection, report the papers.

The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express and The Times quote Mr Munro as saying: “It was just a farce, a lot of it,” he said. “It was a PR exercise.”

“Workers used to watch as lorries left the Widdrington disposal site in Northumberland covered in contaminated ash,” the paper reports him as saying.

“Other lorry drivers tried to leave farms with dirty wagons, and outside contractors turned up to move animals without licences,” he said.

“We also had reports of farmers throwing eyes and tongues from animals down into their own fields to contaminate the stock so they could get compensation,” he said.

All papers report leaked internal Defra documents supplied by Mr Munro detailing foot-and-mouth security arrangements.

A spokesman for Defra said the claims were being investigated.


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