DURING a recent dinner party a couple of long-time friends asked why I ‘always seem to blame’ governments and the Establishment for so many of our problems.
Fuelled by a few glasses of wine I began to burble a list which started somewhere around the creation of Israel, took a detour to the murder of Princess Diana and crudely ended with the Falklands War.
Yes, I suppose I am a bit of conspiracy theorist… but only when that conspiracy has credibility.
As a journalist I have witnessed far too often the lies and dirty tricks that governments and the Establishment will stoop to, to get their own way.
Murder, war and disease are the forerunners.
So I have decided to dig out and reload a few of my published investigations.
This one dates from early 2001, soon after Foot and Mouth Disease devastated British farming.
Conspiracy? You bet!
THE British, Canadian, US and Mexican Governments were preparing for the outbreak of foot and mouth disease FOUR months before it emerged on a Tyneside farm.
An investigation has discovered that all four countries were staging a co-ordinated foot and mouth simulation exercise in October 2000, despite the fact that Britain had not been struck by the disease for 34 years and the USA and Canada had not been affected since 1929.
And North timber merchants have confirmed that they were approached for urgent supplies to tackle the disease by Ministry of Agriculture officials as early as December.
Today scientists called for the Government to admit it knew that foot and mouth was present in the UK long before it was officially pinpointed at Bobby Waugh’s Heddon-on-the-Wall pig farm on February 23.
And Mr Waugh has called for a public apology from the Government after MAFF consistently blamed his farm as “the likely source of the outbreak”.
An investigation has discovered that last October the United States and Mexico began preparing for “a simulated outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease” in all three countries.
According to papers leaked from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the exercise – which took place between November 6 and 9 – was “for the purpose of emergency planning”.
It took place in Ontario, Alberta, Texas, USA, and Tamaulipas, Mexico.
The papers say: “This exercise is the first of its kind and provides all three countries with a unique opportunity to apply their emergency response plans in the event of a real disease outbreak.” Yet neither Canada, the USA or Mexico had been affected with foot and mouth disease since 1929.
And the exercise – which is estimated to have cost over $1 million – was the first US “Foreign Animal Disease Response Simulation” of any kind since 1993. At the same time the UK Government was preparing its own “contingency plans” for a foot and mouth outbreak.
Yet the last foot and mouth outbreak was in 1967. We discovered that MAFF officials began telephoning timber merchants as early as December asking if they could supply wood for pyres, should foot and mouth strike.
Mike Littlehales, who ran a timber yard in Staffordshire said he received a phone call “out of the blue” He said: “I got this call from a lady who said ‘This is the Ministry of Agriculture. Would you be interested in supplying timber in case of foot-and-mouth?’ because she wanted to update her records.
“It surprised me, and I thought it was doubly strange when three weeks later the Government tell us we have an outbreak of the disease.”
Mr Littlehales said the last time his timber business had received a similar call was during the foot and mouth outbreak in 1967.
Fran Talbot, a timber merchant at Eccleshall, said she was approached in first week of February and asked about the availability of railway sleepers in the event of a FMD outbreak.
“The woman said ‘are you still in a position to supply timber for burning animals in case of an outbreak of foot and mouth’. “It was a very odd thing to happen just three weeks before an outbreak.”
Mrs Talbot’s firm had supplied sleepers during the 1967 outbreak, but had not heard from MAFF since.
Tommy Norman, who runs a timber yard at Longtown, Cumbria – the centre of scores of cases of foot and mouth disease – confirmed he had received a similar call from MAFF in January.
“It’s difficult for me to say any more,” he added. “I have provided masses of wood for MAFF pyres, but they still owe me a large amount of money.”
Last night top US scientist Dr Patricia Doyle, who has led a stateside campaign to discover the truth about the UK foot and mouth outbreak, said: “I am convinced that MAFF knew about the virus was on the loose long before this February.
“And the US Government was protecting its back because they weren’t sure how far the virus had leaked.”
Amble-based geneticist Bruce Jobson, added: “This confirms what we knew all along, that the Government was aware foot and mouth was on the loose long before they identified it at Bobby Waugh’s farm.
“The new Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) must now admit that MAFF had covered up the real cause of this outbreak”.
Newcastle-based microbiologist Dr Harash Narang added: “I firmly believe that the virus escaped from a MAFF experiment and had infected sheep as long ago as last October.
“This evidence now supports that belief.” Mr Waugh said he felt vindicated that he was not responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak.
“Again, again and again I have been blamed for this disease, when I knew all along it wasn’t me.
“I now want the Government to admit they got it wrong and tell us all how this thing really started.”
Last night a spokesman for the Canadian Government said he was unable to comment on its foot and mouth simulation exercise due to agreements it had made with the British Government.
“Due to the sensitivity surrounding events which have occurred since February this year, we are unable to comment further on the reasons or results of the November exercise,” he added.
But a DEFRA spokesman denied that MAFF had tried to cover-up the outbreak.
He said: “We did not know of foot-and-mouth in this country at a time earlier than February 21 when it was identified at the abattoir in Essex and then traced to Mr Waugh’s farm in Northumberland.
“There has never been any deliberate concealment. “From time to time we do emergency planning exercises and the inquiries about wood may well have been of this nature.” According to official records the last official UK foot and mouth contingency plan was in 1993.