Alternative versions of the foot-and-mouth saga were proliferating throughout the media, this week 10 years ago, with numerous reports alleging that, far from being over, the outbreak had spread way beyond its official boundaries.

Alternative versions of the foot-and-mouth saga were proliferating throughout the media, this week 10 years ago, with numerous reports alleging that, far from being over, the outbreak had spread way beyond its official boundaries.

These claims, although officially dismissed as scare mongering, seemed to be supported by the growing body of evidence that the disease was at loose in Britain at least a month, if not several months, before it was officially acknowledged.

In particular, the MAFF "suggestion" that the disease first gained a foothold after imported meat was fed in pig swill at Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, had come under increasingly fierce attack.

Mr Waugh's claims of innocence – and documentary evidence suggesting that foot-and-mouth was at work in Welsh sheep at least a month before his farm succumbed – had been highlighted on ITN's flagship news programme, Tonight with Trevor MacDonald.

"I have been blackened as responsible for this outbreak, but I knew all along the disease had come from somewhere else," declared Mr Waugh, in 2001. "I am now waiting for MAFF to admit they got it wrong and clear my name. I feel very angry for being blamed."

Bruce Jobson, the local journalist who put Mr Waugh in touch with ITN, said the evidence was irrefutable that: "Someone, somewhere knew foot-and-mouth was on the loose long before it was detected in the abattoir at Cheale Meats.

"Many people in the farming industry now believe that foot-and-mouth was present in the sheep population for up to four months prior to the confirmed outbreak. MAFF have got a lot of explaining to do."


10 years ago

• Britain's beef farmers would be badly served if the live auction system for cattle was subject to either long-term suspension or extinguished and the value of store, breeding and prime stock established only by private treaty, the NBA warned. It urged agriculture minister, Nick Brown, to properly examine the arguments in favour of the earliest possible resumption of live cattle selling and not be persuaded by their opponents that auction centres had no place in organised marketing and were a long term threat to future foot-and-mouth.

• Opponents of fox hunting in Scotland vowed to stand by the proposed bill to ban hunting with hounds, even though an influential parliamentary committee had condemned the draft legislation as unfit to proceed.

After more than a year of debate and evidence-gathering, the Scottish Parliament's Rural Development Committee decided that, apart from the actual arguments for and against fox hunting, it could not endorse the then current Protection of Wild Mammals Bill because of problems with its wording.

• Some Labour MPs were angry that the farming lobby had "hi-jacked" the Government during the foot-and-mouth crisis. The immediate cause of their anger were figures supplied by MAFGF which showed that one UK farm received £1.8m in subsidies in 2000-2001, with four others getting CAP payments in excess of £1m.

It was also known that the Earl of Iveagh, on of Britain's richest men, received up to £1m per year in set-aside payments on his Suffolk Estate. Dave Watts, Labour MP for St Helens North, said: "I believe the British public are being taken for a ride and that we are paying out billions of pounds each year to 'fat cat' millionaire farmers."

25 years ago

• Around Scotland, farmers were finding that lambs a month or five-weeks-old were dying without any obvious cause. A round-up of farmers indicated that the general view was that the carry-over from the last year's bad season, combined with cold and wet weather – snow on the high ground – and the fact that grass was scarce, even scarcer than it looked, had caused those deaths. Lambing-sheds, which seemed a large, difficult to justify expense, saved some flocks from disaster. So had supplementary feeding, but also at great cost.

• Scotland's first specialist pork-producing factor came on stream at Buckie, heralding a major boost for North-east pig producers. Grampian Country Pork – a sister company for the highly successful Banff-based Grampian Country Chickens group – invested £1m in the former Aberdeen and Northern Marts abattoir at Buckie and planned an initial throughput of 1500 pork pigs a week, targeted to rise to 2500 in three months.

50 years ago

• After a few years out of the championship limelight at Stewarton Show one of the event's best Ayrshire supporters – Mr A Andrew, Borland – came to the fore again with his five-year-old cow in calf, Ravenslea Blossom, which topped an 'excellent' turnout of the breed.

• Messrs L Twaddle and Sons, Carbarns, who had not missed exhibiting in the Clydesdale sections at Lanark County show at Hamilton since the end of the war, won their first championship in a good display of the breed, on the decision of an umpire. Their champion was the four-year-old gelding, Davy, by Tarraby Student Prince, which was first at the Highland and champion at Shotts the previous year. Runner up was the yearling filly, Windlaw Adaline from James Clark, Windlaw, Carmunnock.

• The Canadian Deaprtment of Agriculture was expected to issue importation permits to owners of Scottish animals entering quarantine at the end of August – thus ending their ban on cattle imports from Great Britain. The import of English and Welsh animals was to be reviewed later in the year.