It may interest the reader that details were partly based on the following:-
Article by Yvonne Ridley concerning a missing FMD Culture test tube from
Porton Down, Wiltshire.
(This journalist became well-known whilst spending time as an unwilling guest of the Taliban "authorities" in Afghanistan some months later).
Although (1) appeared in the media - albeit briefly - I doubt whether it will be featured again.
QUESTION: Will Yvonne Ridley continue to pursue this grave matter or has she been advised/ordered to concentrate her energies on other issues?
Mr. Macey told me an extraordinary account of how two New Zealanders were required to sign the Official Secrets Act. He was not entirely certain whether this had any direct bearing on the epidemic but felt that something was, clearly, improper. It transpired that they were assisting in sheep-shearing operations at an unspecified location in Southern Scotland last summer when approached by government officials. I understand that the two workers complied with the instruction but, upon return to New Zealand, disclosed the fact. Mr. Macey was aware of this but could not elaborate. He did mention that veterinary staff employed in eradicating FMD had been asked to sign the Official Secrets Act. My meeting with Mr. Macey was the turning point! Before then, I had looked upon the flood-tide of blood and mud as acts of gross incompetence and, although sceptical, did not think there was something far more sinister.
There is nothing unusual in requiring government department employees (including those sub-contracted from the private sector) to sign the Official Secrets Act: this is standard procedure, although not always invoked. Hovever, the situation regarding the two New Zealand labourers last summer raises the following questions:-
The following questions concern the period of time when the two New Zealanders were working at the farm.
Mr. S. B:-
"To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what stocks the Foot and Mouth Reference Laboratory in Pirbright holds of live unattenuated foot and mouth viruses, and what strains are held."
Min. of State, A.F.F:-
"The Foot and Mouth Reference Laboratory in Pirbright holds a library of over 5,000 strains from all over the world as part of their responsibility as the FAO/OIE nominated World Reference Laboratory."
"To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the number of staff at his Department's Carlisle regional office will be increased, and if he will make a statement."
Min. of State, A.F.F:-
"The number of staff based at the Carlisle Regional Service Centre varies according to business needs. The number of staff in post at the office on 1 November this year was 259, compared to 236 staff in post on 1 January 2000. The numbers are expected to continue to increase during the course of 2001."
Overheard in the bar of a Hatherleigh pub one Friday evening during May
2001. The person who made this remark was - and still is - employed as a
labourer involved in the farm decontamination programme:
.."we all know that foot-and-mouth was done on purpose, but nobody'll ever prove a f***ing thing."
The tragedy of Britain's worst agricultural crisis has been overshadowed by one particular date which will be forever remembered, not least in the United States of America: Tuesday 11th September 2001. The cowards who paraded under the banner of a perverted Islamic fundamentalism - contrary to Mohammedan altruistic principles - were responsible for the mass-murder of countless thousands in New York and many hundreds in Washington DC.
In the present heightened security vigil, unscrupulous elements within Westminster/Whitehall may be tempted to use this as an excuse to stifle, by nefarious means, genuine concerns about government probity - especially their handling of the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic.
My research into exposing the truth behind this national scandal will continue, despite considerable risks, until New Labour comes to its senses and institutes a full, "no holds barred" Public Enquiry.
I will point out that the information mentioned in this article is less sensitive than other material accessible to me. Anybody intending to repeat the episode of Thursday 25th October 2001 will have wasted their time, upon finding my computer data-base void of any reference to Foot-and-Mouth Disease.
Mark Brook: 1st November 2001.
Editor's Note: The foregoing is a true account. Only the names and places have been changed.