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F&D - UPDATE 14
Dr. Richard North PhD. [UKIP]
Research Director EDD [European Parliament]
28 April 2001
Intimidation, blackmail and coercion
If gang of public officials turned up at your door to carry out remedial works on a job they had cocked-up some weeks previously, making a hell of a mess and a stink. As they start to make an even bigger cock-up, you 'phone your neighbour. He gets in touch with the local TV station.
But when a TV crew turns up, the officials call in the Army. They seize the cameraman, force him to strip down to his underpants on the lawn of your house, dress him up in an overall and then escort him off your premises.
They then close off the road next to your house and tell you that if you dare to make a fuss again - i.e., call in the media - you will be placed under house arrest.
Yet this is not some banana republic, ruled by a tin-pot military dictator. This is England 2001, this green and pleasant land - the location is a farm and the excuse for setting up a police state is foot and mouth disease. The officials are, of course, from MAFF. The events described all occurred in April of this year, at Hall Farm, 420 acres of mixed livestock and arable, situated at Church Eaton, nr. Stafford, part of the Earl of Bradford's family estate.
The farm's tenants are Bill and Mary Massie who are now retired, and the farm is run by their sons, Richard and David Massie. There is 300 acres of arable - wheat, barley, sugar beet and oats - and David, with his wife Sue - who are the principle parties in this story - keep (kept) cattle and sheep on the main farm, and farm the arable section. Richard runs (ran) an intensive pig unit on the "Hall Farm", keeping 150 breeding sows and 1400 pigs altogether. He had just invested in a brand new sow-feeding unit
The Massie family had farmed at the site since 1929 and are now in their third generation. Before the MAFF intervention, David and Sue Massie had two beef cattle (he used to buy stores but had not bought more in) and 600 sheep. Of the sheep, they had a flock of 250 Suffolk pedigrees, Texels and Kerries. One of the Kerries won breed champion at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh about five years ago. The flocks had been built up over 40 years and were effectively closed - the last time an outside animal was introduced
was a tup, four years previously.
The story starts on Wednesday 21st March when David and Sue Massey had a visit from a MAFF vet to serve a "D" Notice (Restricted Area) on the farm, as a result of the neighbouring farm, one mile away, having had FMD confirmed the same day. Then, on Friday 23rd, and then on the 25th they visited the farm again, when the vets had "walked through" the animals to check that they were disease-free.
On Tuesday 27th, however, the Massies received a visit from an Australian vet, George Downing, a man in his 40-50s, recently drafted in from Australia to help out. He admitted that he had never before seen FMD.
He wanted to see the two cattle and then went to inspect the pigs. They were fine. But then he wanted to have a closer look at the sheep, actually handling them to see if they had they disease. When Sue Massie approached them with a stranger, they were having none of it and fled. With some difficulty, they caught 250 of them (mixed) - the three breeds run together - and put them in a shed for the vet.
The vet looked at them and found two with "little red dots" (one red dot in one and two in another) on their top gums. He decided these were "suspect cases" and rang up MAFF in London. London was told the sheep were part of a closed flock and that the farm was very isolated - a half-mile off the nearest road. There were no signs of illness in the flock, no lameness and no lambs or ewes had been lost. London decided to give the Massies the benefit of the doubt.
Downing came back on the Wednesday 28th he looked at one sheep in lamb and said the ewe had blisters in the feet - nothing in mouth. On that basis, he said "we won't bother looking any further" and decided that the farm had foot and mouth. They all went in to the farm house/office and Downing filled in all the paperwork.
That afternoon he returned and put down the ewe and the original suspect sheep, without examining them. David looked at the sheep and found that the red spots had cleared up on one. On the other, there was a little spot still (The sheep had mineral blocks and could have scratched themselves on them). He had fed the sheep just before they had been put down and they had eaten
everything they had been given.
David was particularly worried as, after feeding his own sheep and cattle, every day he helped his brother with the pigs - who were also extremely vulnerable to the disease and were likely to show severe signs of illness. But the pigs were fine.
Nevertheless on Thursday 29th a team of vets arrived - but with just two slaughtermen. They started with the sheep on one part of the farm and slaughtered 300 of them, including the lambs. Although MAFF was proposing to bury the animals on the farm, it transpired that no permission had been given for a hole and, in any case, no digger or dumper had arrived. Slaughtering was abandoned for the day
The next day, Friday 30th, more slaughtermen and vets arrived at Hall Farm to kill the cattle, all the pigs and the remaining sheep. Meanwhile, a digger also arrived to start digging the first of two holes. They actually finished the first off, burying the animals.
Then they started slaughtering the pigs, running them on to a trailer in 20-30 batches and shooting them with captive bolts. That was working well but in the middle of the afternoon they ran out of ammunition and started using 12-bore shotguns. Shooting into the trailer packed with pigs (with the vets actually standing by watching them) they actually managed to shoot the window out of the Massies' Case tractor which was attached to the trailer.
David was bringing the sheep in and told them that he wouldn't allow them to kill the sheep with 12-bores. He insisted they got more ammunition for the pistols, which they did, but it was not until 10pm that night that slaughtering finished, leaving most of the dead bodies overnight.
The vets notified the Massies that the three "suspect" sheep were going to be blood tested and they were actually taken on the Thursday. All our neighbours advised them to hold out until the results were back and the Massies argued with the vets. But whatever we said, the vets were not listening. They were intent on slaughtering the animals. The team came back on the Saturday to finish off burying the animals and left the site. Disinfection teams arrived to start cleaning down and disinfecting the farms.
On Thursday 12th April two MAFF people arrived and told David Massie that they were worried about one of the burial sites weeping blood. Their solution was to dig a hole up the side of the site and to spread the rotting animals into the new hole.
Horrified at this, the Masseys got in touch with Lord Bradford on the Good Friday morning. He got in touch with the local TV station, Midlands Today, and asked them to come down. They came out and stationed themselves on the lawn of the house, which MAFF had said was a "clean" area. The cameraman started to film the digger at work. The MAFF did not like this at all.
Next thing, two Army Land Rovers arrived, with six soldiers. They seized the cameraman and made him strip down to his underpants in the middle of the road, put his clothes in a bag, gave him an overall, and told him to get off the farm. They then closed down the public road alongside the house - the road remains closed to this day.
After the fuss had died down, David went down to the soldiers - who were sitting in their vehicles - and asked them why they were there. They said they were working for MAFF and been called in because of the cameras. They got the officer in charge and he told David that if he caused any more fuss, he and his family would be put under house arrest. He also said he had the right to extend the infected place notice, making access impossible, which would keep the cameras away.
With the Army present, the digger continued into the Saturday, but they dug into the main hole and drained the water into the new hole. Near the hole were houses, one with three children in it - one a baby. The smell was horrendous, but the MAFF didn't even tell the occupants what was going on. On a couple of occasions the Army followed Sue, and then David when they left the house, to see where they were going.
Amazingly, the vets them moved to the nearby Apeton Manor Farm - 108 acres - and killed all the animals there, but only ten days after blood tests had been taken on the sheep, which had come back negative. The farm only adjoining on a three-field boundary and there was a ten-foot wide brook between so there could have been no contact between animals.
This is England, land of the free and the brave.
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