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Friday, 27 April 2001, p. 9,
by David Sanderson and Sharon Liptrott.

ARMED police are being put on standby to support the cull to combat foot-and-mouth disease.

Police chiefs admitted for the first time this week that a special response unit had been held in reserve at a farm where the owners had appealed against the slaughter of healthy animals.

But the presence of armed officers has been slammed as "over the top" by the family concerned.

Dumfries and Galloway Police initially denied armed officers had been in attendance at Tony Jackson's Holywood farm two weeks ago.

But this was later retracted and a spokesperson confirmed an armed response unit was "held in reserve nearby".

Dairy farmer Mr Jackson, of Guillyhill farm, sought a Judicial Review at the Court of Session of the decision to kill his 260 Holstein Friesian cattle and 170 calves in the pre-emptive cull.

He insisted his "fortress farming" had prevented the foot-and-mouth virus reaching his stock.

However, his challenge was thrown out and the killing teams moved in on April 10.

Police officers arrived on the day to take Mr Jackson’s guns away so that "the personnel carrying out the cull did not feel nervous as they went about their work".

But Mr Jackson said this week: "At no time was anyone threatened and their reaction was so over the top.

"I was very surprised that armed police were in attendance."

On the day of the cull a distraught Mrs Jackson had told The Standard she had seen armed officers on the farm.

She said at the time: "We have never threatened violence – we have just stood up for what we think is right. If you think something is wrong then you cannot just let it go, but to be treated like a criminal … it is absolutely horrible."

When Mr Jackson was asked this week whether he thought he had been criminalised, he answered: "It certainly gives that impression when armed officers are in attendance."

He added that he did not blame the police for the heavy-handed response and said they were only following orders from government officials.

Mr Jackson continued: "Many farmers I have spoken to are now more frightened about the arrival of Tony Blair’s Gestapo than they ever were of foot-and-mouth."

A police inspector visited the Jackson's last week to return their firearms and to explain the police response. A spokesperson for the force added that the Jackson family should be praised for their full cooperation with officers.

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