Files about the connections between key players in the Foot and Mouth crisis:
Sir John Krebs, Professor Roy Anderson, Professor David King, Sir Robert May, Dr Neil Ferguson
First published on warmwell.com on June 5th 2001
("Serving on the (Wellcome) Council over the same period, from 1989 to 1992, was Professor Roy Anderson. Anderson, who heads the Department of Pure and Applied Biology at London's Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, is also a Wellcome Trustee. His position as a Trustee means that he is one of a handful of powerful men who control the Wellcome empire.
Throughout the time of his term of office on the Council Professor Anderson was one of the most vociferous proselytisers for Wellcome's AZT. (Prof Anderson is married to Clare Baron one of the salaried workers in the office of the All Parliamentary Group on AIDS, which receives funding from Wellcome." )
source - Martin Walker, Dirty Medicine 1993
He moved with 35+ plus of the Oxford Centre's staff - and their grants! - to Imperial College lin 2000, where they created a whole new Dept around him.
Govt/MAFF acted on "the best scientific advice"?
The Ferguson, Donnelly, Anderson (Imperial College Modelling team headed by
Anderson) paper - their "deeply flawed" model that resulted
in the 12/48 cull policies - is entitled "The foot-and-mouth epidemic in
Great Britain: pattern of spread and impact of interventions."
It has led to the deaths of up to 11 million animals -a large proportion of whom were healthy -
and misery in Devon, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, North Yorkshire -
and who know how many future areas?
Prof Anderson et al (Ferguson and Donnelly), Prof King, Blair,
Nick Brown continued shamelessly to peddle statements that are simply NOT TRUE:
1. There was no alternative.
2. Had there been any other way we'd have taken it.
3. Any other policy would have prolonged the epidemic.
4. Any other policy would have resulted in more animals being killed in the
5. The scientists were unanimous about the need for the 24/48 hour cull
6. Dr Donaldson's and Dr Paul Kitching's (IAH Pirbright) comments and
criticisms were fully accounted for in the Anderson et al model.
7. CVL-VLA had no experience of or expertise in modelling.
UPDATE Aug 5 2002. The reports from the Inquiries substantiate what we said last June: not one of the above statements is true.
Govt/MAFF acted on 'the best scientific advice'???
Background (Maff News Release 23rd March)
"The Ministry of Agriculture and the Food Standards Agency held a joint
meeting on 21 March to receive urgent advice from independent expert
Jim Scudamore (Chief Veterinary Officer), Sir John Krebs
(Chairman Food Standards Authority) and Professor David King (Chief Scientific Adviser) heard
reports from Neil Ferguson and colleagues (Imperial College) Mark Woolhouse
(University of Edinburgh) and opinions from experts at the Institute of
Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.
The models and analysis use data recorded by MAFF up to 19 March 2001."
What, you might ask, was Krebs/FSA doing at such a meeting? Does FMD
modelling have anything to do with food safety?
No of course not - he was there to ensure things went smoothly for Anderson and
to ensure that Mr Scudamore,CVO stayed 'on side'.
Do you see any evidence of the supposed "modelling team from Cambridge
University" - mentioned several times by King? Nor do I.
But I do see evidence of a CVL/VLA modelling team that we've not heard of
- This team, headed by Prof John Wilesmith - Head of the CVL/VLA
Epidemiology Unit - was using a well regarded well established FMD model
(InterSpread) from Massey University's Epicentre in New Zealand
The Massey group sent two people over,I understand, to help with the modelling work.
The Anderson et al and Wilesmith/CVL-VLA 'groups' have little love lost
between them, dating back to a big row in the 'heydays' of BSE.
I'm reliably informed that when MAFF commissioned FMD modelling studies
they did NOT commission work from Anderson's team at Imperial - but
Anderson et al did their own FMD modelling studies independently funded
(partly by the Royal Society and also by the Wellcome Trust) which they
then 'brought to the attention of' Prof King - 'aided' by May and Krebs? -
who was 'impressed' and invited then onto his Science Group.
This raises the interesting question of where Anderson et al got the data
to drive their model - I just don't believe that given past history that
Wilesmith/CVL-VLA (who collated the data) would have given it to Anderson
et al unless the Imperial team had been officially commissioned to do FMD
modelling studies - which they were not.
Two possibilities come to mind
1. they initially used data from the 67/68 epidemic and not the 2001 epidemic
2. Prof Mark Woolhouse - another non-vet biomathematician - who led
the 'independent' Edinburgh modelling team gave (leaked) the 2001 epidemic
data to Anderson et al for their unofficial modelling studies.
This is quite possible since Woolhouse used to work with Anderson at Oxford, and
is known to be something of a 'fan', and Woolhouse still defends the 24/48
I've also been told that Woolhouse did not have an independent prediction model of his own but used The Anderson (Imperial) team's model. if true this makes a mockery of King's claim of having 3 (or sometimes 4) independent modelling teams.
It could well be that there were only ever 2 truly independent modelling teams - the
Wilesmith/CVL-VLA/Massey team and the (initially unofficial) Anderson et al
Anderson et al still had a problem - to become predominant they needed to
get rid of the Wilesmith/CVL-VLA/NZ modelling team, and to 'sideline'
Donaldson and Kitching from the IAH Pirbright (who would have naturally
'sided' with Wilesmith/CVL-VLA/NZ team) and who as we know have been very
critical of the Anderson modelling work and the cull policies that arose
I have been informed that at some point - after the meeting mentioned
above? - the CVL/VLA/Massey team was instructed (by MAFF/Govt?) to stop
their modelling work.
I believe the NZ folk then went home. If one goes to the Epicentre web site - http://epicentre.massey.ac.nz/ - there's a link to a 'Links' page - on this 'Links' page there's a link to 'UK FMD Outbreak 2001 - Interspread Predictions ' -
http://epicentre.massey.ac.nz/AHE/economics_exercises/html/Fmd.htm But it was withdrawn almost immediately.
Of course, this completely undermines any claim that
Govt/MAFF acted on 'the best scientific advice', and rather demolishes
Govt/MAFF/King claims that all the scientists were unanimous about need for
12/48 hour cull policies (which of course has already been denied by
Donaldson and Kitching).
The Ferguson, Donnelly, Anderson (Imperial College Modelling team headed by
Anderson) paper that describes their deeply flawed model - that resulted
in the 12/48 cull policies - is' entitled The foot-and-mouth epidemic in
Great Britain: pattern of spread and impact of interventions.
It was published on line by Science Express 12th April. In the References and
Notes section one finds the following in item (20):
"We thank Sir Robert May for valuable advice and discussions, and 3
anonymous referees for comments."
Prof Sir Robert May - President of the Royal Society, previous Chief Scientist, mentor of Anderson and Krebs, close associate of King, and 'People's Peer' - was originally appointed to
'head the Royal Society inquiry into the science behind the policy decisions on FMD'
Here is documentary evidence of the Krebs connection - there's a lot more
circumstantial evidence too:
Publish or perish is the rule for ordinary mortals not for the self
proclaimed super-elite - they've found other ways.
Of course the likes of Krebs and May don't need to publish when they are
supported by Royal Society Research professorships.
Krebs still retains his Chair in Zoology Dept at Oxford - funded by the Royal Society -
his £96K/year contract as head of the FSA is 4 days a week leaving him free
to supposedly spend 1 day a week at Oxford.
May too retains his RS Research Professorship in Dept. of Zoology at Oxford (and Imperial College?)
alongside his position of President of the Royal Society
Anderson was Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Epidemiology of
Infectious Diseases (WCEID) at Oxford which was 'semi' attached to the
Dept. of Zoology - which was created around him at massive cost to Wellcome
Trust - and had his loyal acoloytes - Neil Ferguson and Christl Donnelly -
to do all the real work to which he tagged his a name. Anderson was the
power broker 'front man' who 'sold' the Centre and drew in the money.
Now he's moved to Imperial College, London - along with hangers on (more than 30
people and their associated grants and funding)
they've created a whole brand new Dept. around him and his fellow 'defectors' from Oxford
(including Prof Brian Spratt FRS, who did the Royal Society report on depleted uranium).
Neil Ferguson and Christl Donnelly - are the people who actually do the work while Anderson is the 'impressario' who
takes all the credit.
Here's what Cherwell magazine reported on Krebs' appointment as first Head
of the FSA:
Shock food decision
Claire Price and Clare Yeowart
The appointment of Sir John Krebs, zoology professor at Oxford, as chairman
of the new EU Food Standards Agency was announced last week. The Consumers
Association has expressed disappointment that the government had not
appointed a "strong, credible, consumer chair" for the agency.
The professor will chair the new FSA of 500 staff which will oversee all
food policy issues on a budget of £130 million. His role will be to
evaluate scientific evidence and to explain the science to the public. Sir
John will earn a salary of £96,000 for a four day week.
The Professor's appointment was justified by David Byrne, the Health and
Consumer Protection Commissioner. He claimed that a prestigious figure was
needed to give the new agency a "dependable reputation". Levels of public
confidence in food safety have been low after the BSE crisis and scandals
over dioxins and sewage in animal feed.
Professor Krebs admitted that he had no track record in food or consumer
policy but insisted that he wanted the agency to be "a beacon of openness
and a model for the best use of science".
He added that he wanted to strengthen the "already high standards" of food
safety to ensure that "everyone can have confidence that public health is
being properly protected".
Yet his appointment continues to be the centre of controversy, particularly
in view of his much-criticised badger culling experiment to curb
tuberculosis in cattle."