New questions about the competence of the Government surfaced today after it emerged that there has been a leak of live foot-and-mouth virus from the same place which caused the outbreak earlier this year.

Although a new outbreak is unlikely, as the virus has not leaked into the environment, questions are still being asked about the competence of those there.

Conservative rural affairs spokesman Peter Ainsworth has written an urgent letter to Secretary of State for Defra Hilary Benn, asking questions about the incident.

The National Farmers’ Union said in a statement today: ‘It is extremely concerning that part of the system at Merial has failed. However, we have been reassured by Defra that the secondary decontamination systems have worked effectively and that no live virus escaped into the environment.’