Private Eye 18 May

ONE attraction of the Miners’ Arms, Slingford, in the Forest of Dean, particularly to children, was the sight of a cow and a horse living together in the paddock opposite the pub garden. Moo the Cow and Clearwell Katy the horse were such close friends, as Moo’s owner Lesley Worgan put it, that I think the cow thought she was a horse.

One recent Sunday lunchtime, when the pub garden was packed, eight MAFFia officials turned up and said they had come to kill Moo. Since the cow seemed quite healthy, they were asked to test Moo to see if she had foot-and-mouth, as the law requires. It would be "too expensive", they replied.

The pub’s Customers then watched in disbelief as the cow was put to death with a fatal injection, and removed from the paddock dangling from a mobile crane, only yards from diners eating their roast beef. In fact many were so upset by this grisly scene they had already cancelled their orders and left. Moo’s owner said. "I think they are now just killing for the sake of killing. It is horrible."

Similar sentiments have been expressed countless times recently by farmers in Cumbria, Devon and southern Scotland, as the MAFFia’s Einsatzsgruppen continue to roam the countryside killing thousands of healthy animals with no scientific or legal justification whatever. Yet much of this frenzy of killing has remained wholly unreported by the media. These massacres have not shown up in the daily reports issued by MAFF, precisely because the slaughtered animals were not infected. The only statistic MAFF will now admit to is the "headline figure" showing cases where the disease has actually been confirmed. And that of course is the figure MAFF is now doing all it can to massage downwards, because that is what Alastair Campbell wants.

The only order which matters is that the figures must support one overriding message: that our Beloved Leader has the crisis licked and that, as those graphs from Professor Roy Anderson’s Imperial College computer so conveniently confirm, the epidemic will be over by 7 June. All science, law and truth have been chucked out of the window. Control of the epidemic is now being driven solely by politics and the government spin-machine. And it is interesting that one of Mr Blair’s chief collaborators in this has been Prof Anderson himself, whose past record, as is revealed elsewhere in this issue, scarcely inspires total confidence.

As for what this crisis is doing for ministers’ own grasp on thc truth, a tiny example was a petulant answer given by agriculture minister Nick Brown when being grilled by the BBC’s John Humphrys over how MAFF is now fiddling the figures.

Brown was clearly floundering as Humphry’s produced one piece of evidence after another to show how MAFF had shamelessly changed the basis on which its figures are calculated, basing this on a newspaper article by an expert on the crisis, Dr Richard North. Brown’s only response was to launch a personal attack on North for having six years ago organised opposition to the setting up of MAFF’s notorious Meat Hygiene Service, as if this alone discredited anything he had to say about foot-and-mouth.

What Brown omitted to mention was that the most conspicuous expression of that opposition to the MHS was a Commons motion signed by more than 100 MPs of all parties. The name at the head of that motion, as Nick Brown well knew, was Tony Blair.