UK Farm Minister Denies
She Tried To Bury Major
BSE Blunder
The Sunday Mail - London

Farming Secretary Margaret Beckett yesterday denied she tried to bury a major BSE blunder.
But she admitted her decision to release the news on a website at 10.30pm was "perhaps in error".
Scientists at the Institute of Animal Health in Edinburgh were supposed to be studying sheep's brains, to find out if BSE had spread from cows.
But they studied cows brains by mistake - for five years, at a cost of pounds 217,000.
The blunder was finally revealed on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' website - posted at 10.30pm on Wednesday night.
Yesterday, the Tories called on Beckett to apologise and said it proved "Jo Moore Syndrome" was endemic in Whitehall. Moore was the spin doctor who suggested September 11 was a good day to "bury bad news". Beckett said: "I gave instructions, perhaps in error, that the statement should be put into the public domain as soon as possible.
"Yes, we didn't have time to brief specialist correspondents, we hadn't known for long enough, yes we didn't wait and have a press conference in the morning.
"I feel strongly confident that if we had, we would have been accused of trying to bury the information altogether."
She added: "We immediately put in hand a scientific audit to try and find out what happened, what went wrong, whether there's still anything to learn from the experiment."
Shadow rural affairs secretary Peter Ainsworth said last night: "Margaret Beckett should apologise for the underhand way in which this information was released, explain why it was decided to publish the findings at 10.30 at night and sack whoever took this decision."
Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman Colin Breed said: "She must make an emergency statement to the Commons to outline what she now intends to do to allay fears about potential BSE in sheep.
"The Secretary of State now has some awkward questions to answer over scientific policy."


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