Self-Sufficiency in Style
stop the world?
In parts one, two and three we brought you up to the start of Britain's Swine Fever Epidemic and made some startling claims about its worldwide significance.
The writer introduced himself and his wife into the story and explained how that caught a government veterinary surgeon faking a blood test and travelling between clean and infected farms.
We thought the woman was an impostor and after an abortive attempt to discretely warn someone in authority that there was a problem, considered our options.
We probably would not even have worried about reporting a problem
government vet to
Britain's Ministry of Agriculture, but something tugged at the back of our
We knew that most of the local farmers had a low opinion of the standards within MAFF and we had ourselves witnessed their rather odd habits over sheep quota some years previously.
Still determined to take some action, we thought we would take some advice. We knew of a farmer that had gone to Court with a not dissimilar problem some years before.
...but this is England.
few enquiries secured his name and telephone number.
His bluntness shocked us, "Don't do it. These people are the government, whatever they have done, leave it. They have all the power, you will not win, and they will take revenge."
This response made us all the more determined.
"There is nothing they can do to us," we told ourselves. "We are retired disabled, not in business. This is a private home. They would not dare. For a farmer with a livelihood to make, maybe they could take retribution, but not on a private householder."
"This is England," we convinced ourselves, "things like that don't happen to respectable people reporting crime. Farmers must be afraid of their own shadows."
As it turned out, we were badly wrong. How badly simply astonished us.
|Mrs P had a brainwave. "Leave it to
me," she said before going off to make some 'phone calls.
She returned. "We are going off to see the police."
In fact, it was not the police, but a retired senior police officer.
To this day, the writer does not know his name or former rank and has no reason to ask Mrs P. Some things are best left unasked.
Although he was introduced, the name failed to stick in the mind. Obviously, the location was known. It was in the County of Suffolk, rather than Norfolk, where we live and where the offences took place. We live near the boundary between the two counties.
We can presume that the retired officer had been with the Suffolk Police, where Mrs P had good contacts. The writer also knew the police, but these were usually officers from other forces inexperienced with farming.
Suffolk Police were later to play an important and largely unknown role during Britain's disastrous Foot and Mouth epidemic.
Now, we digress for a moment for the benefit of overseas, especially US, readers.
Out of uniform - name and rank unknown- better that way.
England and Wales
Small countries, but big enough to hold more than forty separate forces, each independent
or were they?
Americans value their right to bear arms. It is enshrined in their written
constitution. It is an inexplicable clause to the rest of the world, but
it is a matter of real importance to all US citizens. A kind of tripwire
of the tolerance of freedom.
Britain has an unwritten constitution. Enshrined within it is a similar tripwire - that there is no national police force. There is no FBI here. For the British it is the ultimate protection against a police state. Our disparate police forces owe their loyalty to the Crown and not to the government.
Of course, as with the right to bear arms, it is a complex attitude, part legal fiction, in a changing world. But national police forces, whatever their utility, make the British nervous and every government pays lip service to the theory, if not always the practice of no "federal" force.
Just such an important principle was breached during Swine Fever and again during the subsequent Foot and Mouth epidemic. A single police force occupied a position of national control, although this was kept very quiet, if not actually secret.
The police force chosen was a small rural one - Suffolk, despite the fact that it was remote from the centres of infection of foot and mouth, in the north and west of England.
A strange choice when there are more than forty to choose from, most bigger.
This was all far in the future, when we had a short private meeting with a
former Suffolk policeman.
We outlined the circumstances.
He was candid, "Be careful of the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture. If you complain, do so publicly. It is the only way you will be safe."
We were really surprised. We were slap bang in the middle of a major crisis, the countryside in an uproar, and we were being told that the government department in charge was not be trusted and retaliated against anyone that stood in their way.
Now everyone in rural Britain knows that to be true. Then, to hear an ex-police officer say so, was a bombshell.
How right he was.
investigation department that doesn't investigate,
We took notice and planned for the worst.
Following a chat, we decided to take notice, even though neither of us
really believed that a British government could behave so badly.
We set in train a careful series of actions - the references are given at the bottom of this page.
We sat back convinced that the problem would be solved.
We expected the matter to be dealt with in the usual rather discrete English
way. A visit from a senior official. A quiet private chat. A reassurance
that steps would be taken, and the matter forgiven and forgotten.
We had no idea why they had a vet behaving so strangely, but anyone who has ever employed staff knows that the strangest things happen sometimes.
People are generally very kind and, providing there is some explanation for bizarre behaviour that does not involve actual crime, and action taken to prevent a repetition, the matter is hushed up.
The writer has had to handle similar situations several times.
But, we were wrong, absolutely nothing happened.
That's not quite true, actually nothing constructive happened. We were either ignored, brushed off, or treated with obvious contempt.
A very sensible word in private was fine by us, but it was never to come.
Instead the Ministry declared war - a war they were to lose.
They've been abolished in disgrace, whilst we are still here, with work still to do, though.
This can't be right!
In the meantime, the epidemic spiralled out of control, and the writer, in-between
trying to get something done, began to take a great interest in just
what the media were saying about the epidemic.
It took ten minutes to see that there were serious discrepancies between what was said in the Press and what was actually happening outside our door.
Something was very seriously wrong.
In particular, the Ministry was feeding the story that small farmers were moving pigs illegally and spreading the disease. There were patrols and road blocks set up and manned to stop these criminals.
But everybody in the business knew that all the pigs at the early sites were owned by a single company, British Quality Pigs Ltd., whose husbandry system involved moving pigs between sites.
Something triggered in our minds. We remembered that the "impostor vet" had refused to tell us which farms were infected - and had actually had the cheek to quote "Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons" rules for refusing us information.
Information that we wanted to help us avoid spreading the infection. That was the reason we asked - to make our way around the lanes avoiding contaminated areas.
Then we recalled that when making the call about the injured young boar, again they "knew" we could not be infected - and again quoted RCVS rules.
The writer started to use some skills gained when handling the rather frequent, and sometimes spectacular, maritime claims. A little investigation was in order, whilst waiting events.
The government information site was checked. There was no mention that all
the pigs affected were in common ownership.
We checked Dr. Meredith's independent site. Not only was the information there, but it was being widely commented upon by vets and the pig industry.
We were later to learn from no less a newspaper than "The Times" that the owner of British Quality Pigs was a major multinational, whose boss was a friend of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
We did not know that at the time of course. Although it is worth pointing out that the police too take an oath of loyalty to the Queen.
Prince Charles is well liked in rural Britain. Connections to the House of Windsor carry weight but can be misused, not necessarily by those who actually enjoy their friendship. Royalty always has its sleazy hangers-on. Some have recently been nicknamed the "Lavender Mafia." They may well be involved in this story.
Anyway, Prince Charles, aside, the East Anglian countryside in the late summer and autumn of 2000 was in an uproar with pigs being slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands. Many, by now, were killed on welfare grounds. They could not be moved and were sinking into the mud or suffocating under the sheer weight of numbers.
It was not conducted well - cruel and unpleasant.
We investigated further, checking the local press against reliable trade and veterinary sources.
A popular man in the countryside, but sometimes careless in selecting his friends and employees.
Animal feed was blamed for Mad Cow, we knew that, but we were awaiting the report to know who was responsible.
There was panic in the air.
The Ministry were methodically lying. They did not want people to know
that the disease was spreading pig to pig, either by direct contact or
from shared contaminated feed.
BQP were then owned by an animal feed giant that had figured in the mad cow - BSE crisis.
BSE, the government claim, was caused by animal protein in animal feed. The government has told us that people are dying because of this error.
We were then awaiting the Phillip's Report on BSE, which was expected to castigate the animal feed industry.
In fact, although it led to the demise of the Ministry of Agriculture, the report was surprisingly kind to the feed manufacturers. Nobody knew or expected that at the time, of course.
Looking back it was clear that they were all worried. The same names cropping up in a second serious epidemic were going to cause questions to be asked. There was going to be a public panic over food safety.
So the government lied about the method of spread and blamed the small men - the little farmers and smallholders that provide the backbone of rural England.
That was not all they lied about either.
The writer comes from one of those funny families which has most combinations of race, religion and politics, that you can imagine. It makes for a broad mind and a tolerant attitude.
This was reinforced by international trading and a multi-faith, multi- coloured and multi-racial office, including all three brands of Irish.
We have shared our lives with Jews and Arabs, our office with Black, Brown and White, our table with Communists and ex-Nazis, and a social life with Protestant and Catholic clerics.
The writer had also experienced being ethnically cleansed, as had his mother on an earlier occasion, when she crossed the Atlantic in 1925. On her own, at seventeen years of age, by sea and rail to California, to avoid a civil war. Hence a family respect for American values to be reinforced by business and personal contacts over many years.
A large part of the family business was trading to areas such as Yugoslavia, Cyprus and Lebanon where intolerance was a fact of life too. These experiences scar the soul.
So, racial or religious discrimination, to disadvantage and persecute, is anathema.
Plain speaking and strong attitudes cause no offence, but dirty business does.
Not the first time, this family needed a little refuge.
Although, she actually travelled via Halifax NS and thence to San Francisco to family - on her own at 17.
Chinese or Afghans, Dutch, Danes or French - anyone will do.
Just so long as it is not traced back to Britain's now infamous Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
And dirty business there was.
Somebody was making a very determined attempt to blame "foreigners" for the outbreak of swine fever. Illegal infected imported meat was the favoured "explanation."
That's fine, if foreigners were to blame, but the stories did not have the ring of truth. They were fairly obvious fabrications, although by their nature, difficult to disprove.
Exactly the same thing was to happen again during Foot and Mouth, but in that epidemic, we had a stroke of luck. The writer was, unaided, able to deal with the matter. The British Government had to apologise to the Anglo-Chinese community and pay compensation - very discretely of course.
This was still in the future when Swine Fever was raging. We knew they were lying about the source, but did not know why or what the real source was.
Now we know that the route into the UK was either infected semen or live pigs, not infected meat. The veterinary industry has long suspected this, but has been persuaded not to raise the issue publicly.
The veterinary industry was to blame. Members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons had brought disease to Britain.
Afghan refugees and ramblers' imported ham sandwiches were more readily accepted as guilty by a country swamped with unpopular refugees and a pig industry suffering from Danish and Dutch competition.
Our complaints about the behaviour of a government vet, were not exactly popular with a government department staffed by veterinarians operating under a Royal charter.
They see their prestige in both their own regulating body - the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons - and the closely associated Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Their very existence stems from their royal associations - not least with the sport of kings - horseracing at nearby Newmarket.
Many are snobs, relying on their pretensions and endemic secrecy rather than their skills - and it shows. They are an anachronism in a modern world.
They were not exactly keen to explain that a friend of the heir apparent to the Throne had been responsible for an uncontrolled spread of animal disease.
Neither were they keen to let the general public know that the route of importation was some careless illegal breeding operations by some of their members.
It is easier and safer to blame the poor and helpless. The small man and woman - the vulnerable.
Those that have nothing to protect themselves except the voice of truth.
If you like, the very opposite of the "fair play" that was once the pride of the English.
The sport of kings and sleaze.
The writer took the ex-policeman's advice to protect himself from the government's Ministry of Agriculture by complaining publicly as well as privately.
A blow by blow account, in arrears, was published on Pigging It!
It isn't good, but it is all an exhausted and confused smallholder being harassed and bullied could manage. The dates are at the bottom of each page. The reports have not been changed.
The first complaint to Norfolk Police was made by telephone on Nov 3 2000. Thetford- Complaint Number 196.
The first complaint to MAFF was made by email on Nov 5 2000.
The first email record of a complaint to Trading Standards was Nov 4 2000.
on liaison organised by Baroness Hayman between police forces, including
Suffolk, during CSF
can be found on http://www.users.waitrose.com/~patgardiner/page7.html.
thing even more organised was reported after FMD.
"The Suffolk Constabulary agreed to take the national lead for policing and opened a Coordination Centre (called Suffolk Gold) at Suffolk Force Headquarters on 26 February 2001. Police Forces contacted Suffolk Gold in the early stages to provide information and to seek guidance, particularly with regard to police activity on infected premises.
Emergency Procedure Unit from New Scotland Yard acted as police liaison to
MAFF in the early days and reported information back to Suffolk Gold.
From 1 April 2001 Suffolk posted a Chief Superintendent to London to lead
a permanent police desk within the JCC. It was the role of the
police desk to pass information from the JCC back to Suffolk Gold for the
benefit of all Forces as well as ensuring the JCC received regular updates
on key policing issues such as protests, illegal movement of animals and
problems with access to farms.
We are indebted to Nick Green, the relentless Cumbrian foot and mouth campaigner for obtaining a copy of this police report and making it available. Copies of the full, lengthy, document are available by email from us on request.
Phillips Report can be accessed for information on Mad Cow/BSE.
The record of compensation in respect of the Chinese Restaurant smear can be found on http://www.ccrag.org/pages/en/report/award.html Much more on this case will be given in a future report explaining the origins of Foot and Mouth Disease. The Chinese don't know the full story - yet. The slander got more publicity than the retraction and apology. (Amendment May 29 2003. This site is now unavailable.)
The East Anglian Daily Times carried many relevant reports at the time, but most are now difficult to trace.
The original "Times" report linking Prince Charles to the owners of British Quality Pigs was on http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,31143,00.html .
can no longer be found, but the obituary of the then ultimate owner of the
company can be found on http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-209715,00.html
You can trace much about the Swine Fever Epidemic from http://www.pighealth.com/csf.htm .
The best independent source of information on Foot and Mouth can be found on Warmwell.
Let me make it clear what is being suggested, not that the Prince of Wales
was responsible for any cover-up, but that others were using the good name
of the Crown to cover-up their own culpability.
This family has always been quaintly Royalist. Mrs P has taken an oath of allegiance to the Crown.
Her father had escaped from occupied France, even after Dunkirk fell to the Germans.
Her grandfather marched across the desert and reached Damascus, even before Lawrence of Arabia reached his goal with his Bedouin army.
The power of spin even then!
The books all say, as does the film, that Lawrence was there first. He was. The British Army were ordered to halt and wait outside the city to allow the triumphant entry of the tribesmen.
As we wait to go to war in the same area to remove biological weapons from a tyrant, it is ironic that crooks claiming the protection and power of the Crown should persecute his granddaughter for exposing biological crime in England.
They got the wrong people - there is worse to come - much worse.
the world of food and agricultural crime
the appropriately named Hangman's Cottage, just to the south of Misery Corner.
Parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15