Last night, a 3km radius Temporary Control Zone was placed around a farm near Dorking in Surrey as a ?precautionary measure?, following an ?inconclusive assessment of clinical symptoms [of Foot and Mouth] by Animal Health veterinary staff.?

Laurence Matthews, who owns the farm, insists that he is confident that his animals are free of the disease, but says he called the vet after noticing that some of his cows showed possible signs of the disease. Chief Vet Debby Reynolds has set up the surveillance zone until at least the test results on the animals have been received and analysed. ?The containment and eradication of Foot and Mouth disease remains our priority,? she said.

Meanwhile, The National Farmers? Union (NFU), has retained law firm Thring Townsend to carry out preliminary investigations on behalf of NFU members who have suffered losses as a result of this outbreak.

The NFU says in a statement that, if it is confirmed that the outbreak came from one of the laboratories at the Pirbright site, it will take advice on the potential grounds for a legal claim. Advisors from Thring Townsend will be contacting affected members to discuss the legal issues, but NFU members have been invited to call the NFU?s Foot and Mouth legal helpline if they have any queries. The number is: 0870 840 0686.