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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK

Farmer wins fight to save herd A farmer whose healthy cattle faced culling under foot-and-mouth rules has won a fight to save his herd.

Guy Thomas-Everard's farm on Exmoor was named as a dangerous contact because it had been visited by a contract worker thought to have inadvertently spread the disease.

But earlier this week a vet declared the 980-strong herd at Broford Farm, near Dulverton, Somerset, free of the virus.

On Thursday the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) issued a statement saying the farm had been reassessed and was no longer considered a dangerous contact so culling need not take place.

Meanwhile the owner of an animal sanctuary in Scotland has lost her legal battle to halt a cull of her livestock.

Lawyers for Juanita Wilson, 54, who runs Mossburn Animal Sanctuary in Hightae, near Lockerbie, lodged a petition seeking a judicial review of the decision to slaughter the 14 goats and three sheep.

Foot-and-mouth facts Total number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases in the UK 1,575 - 1 on Thursday

2,471,000 animals slaughtered 89,000 animals awaiting slaughter 44,000 carcasses awaiting disposal

But Lord Clarke, sitting at Edinburgh's Court of Session, said the possible risk of the disease spreading outweighed any loss to Ms Wilson. The cull was ordered as the sanctuary lies within three kilometres of an infected farm.

Mr Thomas-Everard's cattle were put at risk of compulsory slaughter because the farm had been visited by a contract worker connected to four cases at Wiveliscombe, near Taunton, Somerset.

He had pledged to barricade his farm gate to prevent the cull.

Maff's statement said: "The initial decision to categorise the farm as a dangerous contact was based on the veterinary advice available.

"Subsequently new information came to light, in particular, blood tests from a farm linked to this case were negative. Mr Thomas-Everard said he was "over the moon," that his herd had been saved.

"It's been a harrowing time for me and equally for my neighbours. I did put them through stress and I'm grateful for their support.

"Now we can breathe a huge sigh of relief," he said.

He said he sympathised with farmers whose animals had been culled.

Risk 'exaggerated'

The National Farmers' Union criticised "exaggerated and misleading statements" made by Maff about the risk of foot-and-mouth at Broford Farm.

A spokesman for NFU in the South West, which had initially supported the cull, said: "Had we been given a more balanced and accurate assessment of the situation, we would have reached a very different conclusion."

But a spokesman for Maff told BBC News Online: "The number of daily cases has fallen away and it is the policy of slaughter of dangerous contacts which has got us to that situation.

"While we have sympathy with farmers who have lost all their animals, we have got to continue to bear down on the disease."

-- j (, May 10, 2001

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