I am being made fall guy says farmer

Sunday Express, April 15, 2001

FARMER Bobby Waugh, who overnight became the most hated man in Britain when foot-and-mouth disease was found on his farm, says the Government is making him the "fall guy".

The pig farmer was devastated when agriculture officials blamed him for starting the epidemic by feeding contaminated swill to his stock.

Since then he has had hate mail, death threats and offers of round-the-clock police protection as fears increased for his safety.

Yesterday, Mr Waugh, whose farm near Ponteland, Northumberland, is under quarantine, said: "I feel very angry I’ve been blamed for the out. break. There is growing evidence it started in sheep.

"They said my pig-swill was contaminated and now they’re backtracking. When it all happened the MAFF people told me not to speak to the media and they would handle it all.

"They certainly did that - they made me the fall guy."

He and a neighbouring farmer share the same swill processing plant, yet the other farmer’s animals are disease-free.

He added: "People think the Government tells the truth, but I’ve found out to my cost they don’t. I would like to sit down with Agriculture Minister Nick Brown and ask him a few questions. The truth will come out one day,

"I know I’m blame.

less. I’ve been a pig farmer for 40 years and I think it’s fair to say I know my trade. Thankfully the local farming community has been supportive."

Bruce Jobson, an agricultural journalist and neighbouring farmer, said: "He has been-made the patsy. MAFF pointed the finger at Bobby and yet they haven’t even interviewed him in depth yet.

"The week that MAFF claimed the virus began was a week when he went to five other farms with his own vehicle and none of those farms has gone down with foot-and-mouth.

"Everyone but MAFF is convinced the infection came on to Bobby’s farm from sheep."

A MAFF spokesman said: "We have never said the outbreak started at Mr Waugh’s farm but all the evidence we have suggests it did begin at his pig unit.

"We have never said the cause was untreated pigswill, we have no evidence for that"