Towns called malice – the legacy of Thatcher

Darton blog

I WAS born into a middle class Tory voting household and to my eternal shame joined the Conservative Party at age 16.

I guess my father’s right wing doctrines influenced my own, and as a teenager and college student I followed those politics quite radically.

At 21 years old, against a left wing university backwash, I was Yorkshire vice-chairman of the Federation of Conservatives Students. I was a radical Tory, brushed shoulders with Michael Portillo, shared a whisky with former PM Ted Heath and fought hard in Thatcher’s election victory of 1979.

That remains the eternal shame of my youth.

But life is a great leveller and educator, and chalk face experiences over 38 years changed all that… it changed me as a person, socially, spiritually and politically.

In the year Thatcher was first elected, a more socially aware friend of mine warned: “There will be war in three years!”

How right she was!

In 1982 we were at war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, ostensibly to liberate islanders loyal to the British Crown, but in reality because we had discovered huge reserves of oil in the South Atlantic a few years earlier.

And with Thatcher’s ratings in the opinion polls falling, there was a nothing like a bit of jingoism and nationalistic war fervour to boost Tory ratings.

But it was what I discovered years later as a newspaper journalist, which cast the Falklands War in a new light.

Not only was our prized battleship cruiser HMS Sheffield sunk while carrying nuclear depth charges, but against all international treaties to keep the South Atlantic nuclear free, Thatcher had deployed a British nuclear-armed submarine into the area.

The orders were clear: if the Argentines sunk another of our flagships, a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Cordoba was to be considered.

Just think for a minute where that might have led in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. Thatcher was prepared to risk a global Armageddon to secure her political ends.

But it was at home, where my opinions of Thatcher and her politics changed me forever.

My real education began in the early 1980s as a secondary school teacher in the South Yorkshire pit village of Darton – the home of Woolley Colliery, where NUM leader Arthur Scargill began his working life.

I lived in the village for four years among miners and their families, and many of my pupils were the sons and daughters of miners. Most of the boys were destined to become miners, and many of the girls would get jobs in businesses dependent on mining.

I played cricket each weekend with miners. My neighbours were miners. I went to football matches at Oakwell with miners. And I bought my first house from a miner.

The sound of the local pit hooter and the rattle of coal trucks woke me early each morning and the coal dust got into my clothes and my life.

But what struck me then, and has stayed with me ever since, was the sense of community and friendship which imbued every aspect of life in that village.

Life was vibrant!

If one of my charges misbehaved at school, I could be sure his or her parents would know about it, and he or she would be disciplined at home.

If I was ever ill in bed, a neighbour would knock at the door and ask if I needed any groceries or would leave a casserole of stew.

If the snow was deep we would all help clear each-others’ drives or pathways.

If anyone had a party in the street, the whole street would be invited, no exceptions. And those parties were real parties with Yorkshire beer, pies, gravy, chips and puddings.

And if my girlfriend had to walk home late at night, I wouldn’t fear for her safety.

It was a time of the greatest friendship and community I have ever known.

I moved away for misled career aspirations in 1983.

One year later, Thatcher’s brutal decision to crush the trade union movement at any cost, laid waste to this community and countless more like them.

They were never to recover.

For those not familiar with this time and place, watch the BBC TV boxed set Our Friends in the North to gain a little perspective.

All that was wonderful was lost forever due to capitalist greed and Thatcher’s need for unbridled power.

We had a nation divided against itself where the rich got richer while the rest fought for the scraps.

A whole street’s belief in Sunday’s roast beef

Gets dashed against the Co-op

To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear

It’s a big decision in a town called malice.

(Paul Weller)

My politics changed fast.

In 1988 I was in hospital in Cardiff undergoing surgery for a lung cancer.

It was a time of personal trauma, but also the making of new friendships.

Many of these friends were former miners from the South Wales valleys. Most were suffering from lung cancer due to a lifetime working among coal dust.

But it was their tales of how Thatcher crushed the miners’ strike that will always stay with me.

Some blamed Scargill for getting some of the NUM tactics wrong, but it was Thatcher they blamed for the decimation of their lives and families.

I learned how she used MI5 and the Met Police, and every dirty trick imaginable, to tarnish the personal reputations of the striking miners, even down to the conspiratorial murder of a taxi driver.

When I had fully recovered from the cancer in the mid-1990s, I travelled back to my old village near Barnsley to see how things had changed.

What met me was post-apocalyptic.

All vestiges of coal mining had gone, the shops had steel shutters on their windows, litter blew around the main street and pale youths gathered on corners with eyes that seemed devoid of hope.

The ghost of a steam train – echoes down my track

It’s at the moment bound for nowhere –

Just going round and round

Playground kids and creaking swings –

Lost laughter in the breeze

I could go on for hours and I probably will –

But I’d sooner put some joy back

In this town called malice.

(Paul Weller)

But time passes, and surely with two decades of government promises of better lives and Tony Blair’s “Things Can Only Get Better”, that despair I witnessed in 1997, must have changed.

So last weekend I returned to Darton once again, for the first time in 20 years.

In the distance the old pit heads have been replaced by rolling grassland, trees and green parkland.

To a passer-by it is picturesque… but this is nature’s illusion to mask the reality.

On the main A637 a small single business park is all that has replaced a mining industry that employed thousands in Barnsley alone.

And as I strolled round the decaying remains of the village and community I once loved, everywhere I looked brought tears to my eyes.

Long gone was Steve White the butchers, Broadheads the ironmongers, Henrietta’s dress shop, the local newsagents, the greengrocer and the launderette – a community meeting place for the miners’ wives.

Below uncleaned windows and blackened limestone walls they have been replaced with a Chinese takeaway, a tanning studio, an exotic pet store, a charity shop and boarded-up facades.

Cars and buses pass by quickly, rarely stopping on their way to somewhere else.

Only the elderly trundle along the pavement, past shops where there is nothing left to buy; walking small dogs and faces waxing grey and etched in lines of worry.

It reminded me of scenes I also witnessed in Northumberland (where my paternal grandfather and great grandfather were both miners) where three generations of families have been unemployed since 1984.

Their former pit communities have crumbled into decay, with all manner of social problems: derelict housing, rotting schools, drug dependency, street crime, high rates of teenage suicide and homelessness.

The villages remain, with three buses a day to their nearest towns and any chance of a better life, the lasting memory to Thatcher.

Thatcher’s true legacy lies in the coal dust of the communities she destroyed and the lasting fear of nuclear war.

And 38 years of Tory government (including Tony Blair’s New Labour Toryism) has ensured that the decay and legacy continues.

But the reality is there is an alternative.

That is the terrifying truth that the media, government and big business work so hard to conceal.

It the past two years, Jeremy Corbyn has woken us all to that truth and shown that alternative way forward… for the many and not the few.

  • No more forgotten communities
  • No more decay
  • No more unemployment
  • No more homelessness
  • No more scapegoating the poor
  • No more rough sleepers
  • No more fear of war

We can change the future for everyone on 8 June.

This is a journey we can all go on together, all of us. We can include everyone and fear no one.

I am voting Labour.

 

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Waughtergate: We found ourselves a fall-guy

It has been quite a while since I have rebooted one of my newspaper investigations. These are three pieces from a series I ran on the Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001, published between March and June that year in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. Looking back, I am even more convinced now, that the Government’s unrelenting scapegoating of Northumbrian pig farmer Bobby Waugh for the epidemic was Establishment black ops at its worst.

 

 UK, US, Mexico and Canada prepared for Foot and Mouth Epidemic four months before it started

By Nic Outterside

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.

A Chronicle 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 of England 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 23 February.

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”.

A Chronicle 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 6 and 9 November – 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. The Chronicle has 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 21 February 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.

MAFF Bosses Get a Blasting

By Nic Outterside

Under-fire pig farmer Bobby Waugh is not responsible for the foot and mouth disease, one of the Government’s own vets today claimed.

Stuart Renton, a vet for almost 30 years, who works out of the Foot and Mouth centre in Kenton Bar, Newcastle, launched a scathing attack on his employers, the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food.

He said he and many other vets working for MAFF believe Mr Waugh is innocent after the Government’s charge that the epidemic “probably” started on the Northumberland pig farm.

Today Mr Renton says he has seen enough evidence of ‘old’ F&M sores on infected sheep to convince him the disease was present in the UK long before 15 February.

And he blasted the Government for adopting the wrong policies to deal with the outbreak. “They made our work extremely harrowing,” he said.

The 50 year-old North East vet’s contract with the MAFF may now be on the line for daring to tell what he believes is the truth. Throughout the entire foot and mouth epidemic MAFF vets have not been allowed to speak about the crisis.

Instead any official comment has only come from MAFF press office in London, its chief scientist Professor David King or Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.

And they have steadfastly blamed Mr. Waugh’s pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall as the “likely source” which they say started between 15 and 23 February.

But Dr Renton says he has seen enough evidence of ‘old’ foot and mouth sores on infected sheep to convince him that the disease was present long before then.

Dr Renton said: “Long standing foot and mouth lesions are being found in sheep nationally, indicating the disease was probably present before the initial outbreak in Heddon. We are still getting pockets of infection in sheep which we cannot trace back to Heddon”.

Dr Renton has been part of the MAFF team diagnosing and overseeing the destruction of animals since taking on a case at Black Callerton, Westerhope on 26 February.

He said: “Along with a number of the veterinary surgeons involved, I have serious doubts over the culling policies being adopted by the Government, which makes our work in this outbreak extremely harrowing,” he said.

“And from day one MAFF has been terribly under-resourced to cope. I knew when I took on case number 10 on 26 February that we were on the edge of a disaster and it’s been playing catch-up ever since.”

MAFF said it was ‘unfortunate’ one of its vets should choose to speak to the press. “We will investigate this immediately,” said a spokeswoman.

Although Mr Renton’s contract with MAFF could be terminated by his decision to speak out, the Chronicle understands it is unlikely he will lose his job because of a shortage of replacement vets.

Until today MAFF has stuck to an official line issued by Agriculture Minister Nick Brown that: “It is likely that the outbreak originated at a pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland.

But a MAFF spokeswoman distanced the Government department from the statement and claimed it had never said the outbreak “definitely started” at Mr. Waugh’s pig farm.

“We only said it was the likely source and were not pointing fingers,” she said. “It is one of a number of possible sources.”

Bobby Waugh said, “Once again there is evidence to show my farm is not to blame for the foot and mouth disease. I am now waiting for the Government to admit they got it wrong and clear my name.”

Dr Renton has been part of the MAFF team since taking on a case at Black Callerton on 26 February.

MAFF said it was “unfortunate” one of its vets should choose to speak to the press. “We will investigate this immediately,” said a spokeswoman.

UK Government Seeks to Gag Farmer

By Nic Outterside

GOVERNMENT officials are trying to gag Tyneside farmer Bobby Waugh with the Official Secrets Act.

The controversial move came after he accused them of making him the scapegoat for the foot and mouth disease epidemic. But Mr Waugh says he will not be silenced and his supporters claim the Government is using Big Brother tactics to cover-up the real cause of the outbreak.

A week ago Mr Waugh revealed that for 100 days since the disease was linked to his Burnside pig farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, the Ministry of Agriculture refused to allow him to clean up the premises.

He claimed their blanket refusal had cost him £24,500 in wages, rent and lost income. Mr Waugh also damned 10 animal welfare charges brought against him by Northumberland Trading Standards Offices as “wildly inaccurate”.

Now bosses at MAFF (renamed DEFRA – Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – following the General Election) say Mr Waugh can only clean up his farm if he signs the Official Secrets Act.

A 12 page Ministry of Agriculture contract, dated 4 June and leaked to the Chronicle, details the agreement, which could pay Mr Waugh £10,000 in clean-up compensation.

But to begin the clean-up procedure – which almost every other foot and mouth infected farm has been allowed within days of its animals being culled – Mr Waugh must abide by Clause 17 of the contract.

This states: “The supplier undertakes to abide and procure that his employees abide by the provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1911 to 1989.

“The supplier shall keep secret and not disclose any information of a confidential nature obtained by him by reason of the contract, except information which is in the public domain otherwise than by breach of this provision”.

The contract is a lifetime gag on Mr Waugh as it states: “The provision of this Condition 17 shall apply during the continuance of this Contract and AFTER ITS TERMINATION howsoever arising.”

Although this may still allow Mr Waugh to speak about some aspects of his farm and the foot and mouth crisis, experience has shown that the Government can take a very wide view as what is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. The contract could even prevent him publicly defending the 10 animal welfare charges made by Northumberland Trading Standards.

In recent examples of the power of the Official Secrets Act London Student Julie Ann Davies and writer Tony Geraghty were both arrested in 1999 after what they believed were innocent protests about what they thought wrong with the Government.

But while gagging Mr Waugh the OSA clause allows the Government to say what it likes: “The Minister shall be free to disclose the terms of this Contract and particulars of the Services as he thinks fit.” Mr Waugh is now stuck in a Catch 22 situation.

If he signs the contract and then speaks out about what he claims is a Government plot to discredit him, he could be imprisoned like a spy or traitor under the Official Secrets Act.

But, if he refuses to sign it he will lose the valuable clean up compensation and cannot operate his farm.

The Government has consistently blamed Burnside Farm as the “likely source” of the foot and mouth outbreak despite evidence that the disease was present in UK sheep long before it was identified among Mr Waugh’s pigs on 23 February.

“None of this makes sense,” said Mr Waugh. “I have been on the phone to MAFF almost every day since the beginning of March asking when I can clean out my farm.

“Each time I have either been fobbed off or told permission cannot be granted for legal reasons.

“Yet within days of me speaking out in the Chronicle this contract is sent to me.

“They are trying to gag me, but they will not stop me saying what I believe is the truth.”

Mr Waugh is now taking legal advice on how to proceed.

Supporters of the Heddon pig farmer have reacted angrily to the news of the Official Secrets Act gag. Animal geneticist Bruce Jobson, who is writing a book on the foot and mouth epidemic, entitled “Waughtergate”, said: “This is a sinister Big Brother tactic being used by the Government, because they are afraid that people are believing their patsy is innocent.

“I have investigated this outbreak from day one and there is no way Bobby is the source of the infection.

“They have him over a barrel, because they know he cannot afford not to get his farm cleaned up.”

US scientist Dr Patricia Doyle, who has led a Stateside campaign to uncover the real cause of the foot and mouth outbreak, said: “The disease almost certainly started with an accidental release of FMD virus from vaccine trials, possibly as early as October last year.

“Mr Waugh was not the best farmer in the world and FMD conveniently found its way to his farm.

“And this stinks of a Government cover-up”.

A DEFRA spokesman said the delay in cleaning out Burnside Farm was due to problems in disposing of 60,000 gallons of pig slurry and wash water. “We had a significant problem of waste disposal,” he said.

The spokesman admitted that use of the Official Secrets Act on Mr Waugh, may be viewed as heavy handed.

He said: “We accept that this is an extensive caution, but it is a standard condition which exists in all our contracts. “But the farmers are not being gagged.”

But five other farmers contacted by the Chronicle had not received similar contracts. Today a spokesman for the National Pig Association, the union representing Mr Waugh, said they were outraged by the contract and the inclusion of the Official Secrets Act.

“We have told Mr Waugh not to sign it and we are going to fight his case for him,” he added. An NFU spokesman said they were not aware of other farmers being forced to sign similar contracts and said they would investigate the matter further. Hexham Tory MP Peter Atkinson said the attempted gagging of Mr Waugh by use of the Official Secrets Act was “sinister”.

“It is also bizarre as the Official Secrets Act covers very serious stuff so what are the Government afraid of here,” he added. “It reinforces the feeling that they have something to hide.”

Mr Atkinson said would be tabling a parliamentary question to DEFRA minister Margaret Beckett demanding to know why Mr Waugh is being asked the sign the Act.

Whatever it Was, it Drove Them to Their Knees

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.