Foot & Mouth: legal update

Surrey County Council will not take legal action against the Government over last year’s Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Solicitors representing Surrey council, in which the Pirbright and Merial laboratories are located, said that a case would not succeed due to a lack of conclusive evidence concerning the source of the outbreak.

Three Government-commissioned reports failed to pinpoint the source of the outbreak.

Peter Denard, Trading standards manager, said: ‘Because the two laboratories share the same facilities on the site, it hasn’t been possible to pinpoint who was responsible for the outbreak [of Foot and Mouth].

‘The Government needs to make sure in these circumstances one laboratory is held accountable, and that is what we’re calling for now.’

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The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has issued a statement saying:’The decision ofthe council not to prosecute either of the laboratories is understandable given the need to establish beyond doubt that an operator has committed an offence.

‘The NFU is considering the potential civil liability of the two laboratories for the enormous damage sustained by farmers as a result of the virus escape.’

Surrey County Council will not, however, take legal action against the Government over last year’s Foot and Mouth outbreak, it was confirmed today.

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