- The BSE Inquiry resumes in London after
its summer recess and it is expected to hear evidence from a leading government
scientist who says a recommendation that a computerised cattle data base
be set up in 1991 was ignored.
- The absence of this cattle register had
proved the main obstacle to lifting the European Union ban on British beef
- As well as hearing about the ignored
advice, the inquiry will consider evidence from top civil servants, industry
bosses and relatives of some of the new variant CJD victims.
- The list of witnesses to be called to
the hearing in Lambeth, north London, includes the government's chief medical
officer, Dr Kenneth Calman.
- In 1994, Dr Calman attacked "irresponsible"
newspaper reports claiming that a teenager might have caught CJD after
eating a contaminated burger.
- Senior MAFF scientist Dr Peter Bunyan,
who in 1991 recommended "the urgent establishment of a National Cattle
Data Centre", is due to give evidence on Wednesday.
- In his statement to the inquiry, Dr Bunyan
says his recommendation seven years ago "was not attractive to the
- Nearly destroyed British beef industry
- He adds: "The approach was subsequently
adopted in Northern Ireland, with demonstrable recent benefit to their
- Other high-ranking officials due to appear
are former chief medical officer Sir Donald Acheson, former permanent secretary
at the Department of Health, Sir Christopher France, and former chief veterinary
officer, Mr Howard Rees.
- The inquiry, which was set up to review
the emergence and response to BSE and CJD, will hear from government ministers,
who served during the height of the crisis, in November and December.
- The outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
nearly destroyed the British beef industry.
- The disease was diagnosed in 1984 but
it took two years for cases to be recognised.
- By 1993 more than 3,500 new cases were
diagnosed each month.
- When a link was announced in 1996 between
BSE and the human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), beef sales plummeted.
- Consumers have been hit by further confusion
this week after government BSE expert Professor Jeffrey Almond warned there
was a "distinct possibility" that BSE existed among Britain's
flock of 42 million sheep.
- But the Government has stressed there
is no scientific evidence of BSE in sheep.
- The inquiry, which started in March under
the chairmanship of Appeal Court judge Sir Nicholas Phillips, resumes after
a four week break.
- Former chief veterinary officer Howard
Rees is scheduled to give evidence on Thursday.