Captain Bryn Wayt

Dear Defra,

I request information under the FoI Act 2000 relating to Exercise Silver Birch and in particular actions surrounding IP10.

Ref: http://animalhealth.defra.gov.uk/about/p...

Ref: Ref: http://animalhealth.defra.gov.uk/news/11...

I realise this was a simulation but the CVO was most adamant that it was a "realistic" exercise - I have serious doubts about that with regard to IP10.

The scenario was:
11 The dates of each element of the exercise were as follows:
The field operational elements took place on the 27th May 2010.
The table top exercise took place on the 10th June 2010 in London.
Facilitated Expert Groups, stakeholder groups and Animal Disease Policy Groups took place between June and October 2010.
The Exercise briefings took place between the 5th and 29th October 2010 in all exercise locations.
The live exercise took place on the 9th & 10th November 2010.
Exercise debriefing sessions took place locally and nationally from 17th November to 17th December 2010.

12. The exercise scenario was designed to be challenging and aimed to test the Governments’ plans for a medium to large scale FMD outbreak (with the two day live exercise being played out at day 7 and 8 of the simulated outbreak). The scenario was based on disease spread through a market in the North East of England to Wales and Scotland and spread within England to the North West and South East of the country. There was no spread to Northern Ireland.

34 ….. In the live element of the exercise, players had no visibility of the developing scenario and had to respond as they received or gathered information in
real time. The live play was driven from a Master Events List by exercise control (EXCON) and controlled players, who ensured that relevant information was input at the appropriate time and location to maintain exercise pace and feeling of reality for the participants.

Annex C
31. A farmer on a premises near New Deer, Scotland checks his cattle and suspects that they are showing signs of Foot and Mouth Disease on the 08th
November 2010. This is reported to Animal Health Office in Inverurie who cannot rule out disease and submit samples for prioritised overnight testing.
------------------------

To assist you, reference should be made to a letter from Mr John Leach (who has been kind enough in the past to supply FoI Act data to me) dated the 14th Dec 2011 in which he states samples from IP10 were shipped to Pirbright under the following "relevant time-line" assumptions.

The relevant timeline is below:
10:00 – call received reporting suspicion [ 8th Nov ]
11:15 - duty Veterinary Officer arrives at the premises
13:00 – Duty VO commences sample gathering
14:30 – samples driven to Aberdeen Airport
15:30 – samples arrive at the airport
15:40 – samples loaded onto flight
17:00 – flight ETD
18:45 – flight ETA
19:20 – sample hand-over
20:30 – ETA Laboratory
01:00 – earliest notification of analysis. [ 9th Nov ]

FoI Act 2000 Questions

Q1. At 13.00 hrs the DVO commenced sample gathering - what "sort" of samples were they exactly? The "tissue of choice" is epithelium. What various samples did the DVO simulate taking from simulated suspect cattle?

Q2. Assuming some or ALL samples were epithelium, for a lab diagnosis and isolation of FMDv a reputable source states, "MUST be frozen on dry ice immediately". Where did the DVO get dry ice from in the area of IP10?

Q3. What sort of container did the DVO simulate placing the samples in - was it in a IATA Class 6.2 Cate A or Cat B container?
Q3(a) What country does Defra procure its UN2900 containers from?

Q4. What weight, in each case, were these simulated samples (in gms)?

Q5. Whilst it was a simulation, paperwork forms a vital part in any exercise, may I 'sight' the "Clinical Record Form" (FM3 or the like) for each animal a sample was taken from?

Q6. Can you explain how it only took 10 minutes from arrival at Aberdeen Airport (landside) to get these special samples (Dangerous Goods) onto the aircraft (airside)? HM The Queen would be lucky to equal 10 minutes stated.

Q7. Whilst recognising that the time-line for IP10 is "indicative only" it appears to me the exercise fails in "reality" for the ONLY aircraft that leaves Aberdeen with an ETD of 17.00 was the FlyBe flight 7295. That aircraft comes from Gatwick as the FlyBe 7294 and has an ETA of 16.30 so it is quite IMPOSSIBLE for anything to be loaded onto an aircraft that is not even there yet! ("15.40 samples loaded onto flight") Can I 'sight' the Master Events List that shows how samples were collected and delivered as per the time-line for IP10?

Q8. Who was "EXCON" and was it the same man who presented the script for IP10?

Q9. Can I 'sight' the IATA Dangerous Goods Declaration Form (for each package) that was simulated as sent?

Q10. Can I 'sight' that paperwork/log of the EXCON which states something along the lines of, "samples taken to ABZ freight shed for processing e.g. fill out Dangerous Goods Form/arrange Xray of samples package" ?

Q11. Can I 'sight' the "EXCON" paper that verifies the knowledge that FlyBe7295 would arrive at the SOUTH Terminal and those Dangerous Goods are then taken to the Servisair Cargo Shed (roughly 2 miles away) for the paperwork to be cleared (and other formalities) before further transportation would be allowed, particularly to "land-side"? Can I see the paperwork that proves this could be done in 35 minutes after the aircraft's arrival?

Q12. What paper-based assumptions are on record that purport that Dangerous Goods can be off an aircraft and released to "land-side" within 35 minutes of an aircraft arrival?

Q13. What route planner is used by Defra in calculating a journey from Gatwick Airport to IAH Pirbright right after normal business hours: was the M25 and A3 assumed to be used?

Q14. What signage is used on road vehicles earmarked for the transportation of Dangerous Goods?

Q15. In his letter (Ref: RFI 4318) of the 14 Dec 2010 Mr Leach mentions, "The decision to CONFIRM DISEASE in Scotland will be taken by the CVO Scotland, and this decision may be made BEFORE the laboratory analysis has been carried out if the animals are showing clear signs of disease".
What paperwork exists that allows an EU Council Directive to be disregarded and ignored when a "case" or an "outbreak" has NOT been verified by OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION (which in law means a Laboratory analysis at Pirbright) and animals are to be slaughtered on simply an opinion?

Council Directive 82/894/Article 2 (a) (b) (c)
Article 2

For the purposes of this Directive: (a) "holding" means any establishment (agricultural or other) situated in the territory of a Member State, in which animals are reared or kept; (1) Opinion delivered on 12/13 April 1982 (not yet published in the Official Journal). (2) OJ No C 112, 3.5.1982, p. 4. (3) OJ No 121, 29.7.1964, p. 1977/64. (4) OJ No L 375, 31.12.1980, p. 75. (5) OJ No L 55, 8.3.1971, p. 23. (6) OJ No L 47, 21.2.1980, p. 8. (7) OJ No L 302, 31.12.1972, p. 24. (8) OJ No L 325, 1.12.1980, p. 14. (9) OJ No L 47, 21.2.1980, p. 4. (10) OJ No L 325, 1.12.1980, p. 16.

(b) "case" means the official confirmation of any of the dieseases listed in Annex I in any animal or carcase;

(c) "outbreak" means the holding or place situated in the territory of the Community where animals are assembled and where one or more cases has or have been officially confirmed;

==================

Thank you in advance for your time and answers - which I look forward to receiving in due course.

Yours sincerely

Captain Bryn Wayt

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Leach, John (FFG-CCEDAR), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1 Attachment

Dear Captain Wayt,

Please see the attached letter.

Yours sincerely,

John Leach

<<Acknowledgement-letter doc Bryn Wayt-FOI 4538..pdf>>

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

This email and any attachments is intended for the named recipient only.
If you have received it in error you have no authority to use, disclose,
store or copy any of its contents and you should destroy it and inform the
sender.
Whilst this email and associated attachments will have been checked<br>for
known viruses whilst within Defra systems we can accept no responsibility
once it has left our systems.
Communications on Defra's computer systems may be monitored and/or
recorded to secure the effective operation of the system and for other
lawful purposes.

Captain Bryn Wayt

Dear Leach, John (FFG-CCEDAR),

As always, I am indebted for your timely and informative reply, and will look forward to getting the answers to my questions in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Captain Bryn Wayt

Dear Leach, John (FFG-CCEDAR),

Your acknowledgement of my FoI Act 2000 questions read in part:
"As required by the legislation, we aim to answer your request within 20 working days from the date we received it by 21 February 2012.
If for any reason we are unable to meet this deadline we will keep you fully informed of the reasons for this."

I have not been kept fully informed of why the deadline has been missed - may I have the reasons please. I can guess, but please tell me where the difficulties lie.

Yours sincerely,

Captain Bryn Wayt

Leach, John (FFG-CCEDAR), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1 Attachment

Dear Captain Wayt,

I refer to your earlier e-mail today, concerning FOI 4538.

A decision has been taken to not deal with the  query, please see the
attached letter.

Yours sincerely,

John Leach

<<FOI 4538- Final reply.pdf>>

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

This email and any attachments is intended for the named recipient only.
If you have received it in error you have no authority to use, disclose,
store or copy any of its contents and you should destroy it and inform the
sender.
Whilst this email and associated attachments will have been checked<br>for
known viruses whilst within Defra systems we can accept no responsibility
once it has left our systems.
Communications on Defra's computer systems may be monitored and/or
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lawful purposes.

Dear Leach, John (FFG-CCEDAR),

I do not know why I should thank you for refusing to answer my questions about the paper-based fiasco surrounding IP10 and its part in Exercise Silver Birch, but I will, because your department's flat refusal proves conclusively that there was no realistic and believable handling of that incident even as a 'paper' exercise. So thank you Mr Leach.

To the heart of this response of yours - the excuse and defence of a vexatious request is deeply questionable and upsetting to me.

I was fully aware from day one that Silver Birch was a 'paper based exercise'. I believe that Defra do not have the answers to my latest request, because exercise planners have not thought this IP10 through to a realistic finale.

Your negative reply Mr Leach starts with the red-herring, "Correspondence with Defra regarding Defra’s handling of Foot and Mouth Disease".
These previous FoI questions were entirely legitimate, and should not form any part of a refusal decision in this instance.
All items referred to, up to item 15 should be inadmissible and were not intended to be, or are, vexatious - nor indeed was my last FoI Act 2000 request.
FoI Act 2000 Guidelines cover this by saying, "However, a request will not automatically be vexatious simply because it is made in the context of a dispute or forms part of a series of requests".

The Guidelines go on to say, "For example, a series of successive linked requests may be necessary where disclosures are unclear or raise further questions that the requester could not have foreseen." That is what happened, questions were not answered. One 'refusal' was transmitted to me due to the information being programmed to come out at a later date - that was acceptable.

"You should not use section 14 as an excuse to avoid awkward questions that have not yet been resolved satisfactorily".
THAT Mr Leach is exactly what you have done!
My IP10 questions are awkward only because you don't have the answers, not because it was a 'paper exercise' but because nobody conducting this part of the exercise had thought the problem through deeply enough, and trying to fob me off with an "extracted" time-line for IP10 that has subsequently been proven to be impossible.

"An important point to note here is that it is the request – not the requester – that must be vexatious. You cannot judge a request to be vexatious just because the individual concerned has caused problems in the past"

I would hate to think I have caused you/Defra problems in the past: as a taxpayer it is my entitlement to ask FoI Act 2000 questions which I am passionate about, and I admit that I never want to see FMD2001 repeated.
The way Defra are impotent to this day, and where Uruguay were not in 2001, nor now, makes me fearful I will indeed see another catastrophe of 2001 proportions when FMD hits these shores again.

You castigate me and label me as vexatious for having deep concerns about the UK's defence against FMD - why should I not have strong feelings? £40billion pounds were lost and 60 farmer suicides focuses the mind that it must NOT happen again, so I search for reassurance that the UK is safe against FMD "fields of fire" and will never mirror the past of 2001.

You tell me, "The purpose of Exercise Silver Birch was to test a large FMD outbreak spread across GB and this was the reason for having an IP in Scotland".
You may as well have had three IP's in Scotland for the exercise should TEST the system you purport to have in place. It is no use just guessing a time-line from IP10 or any other IP you slaughter out (SOS) if you are not serious in learning exactly how Defra is going to properly respond.

You state, "However we maintain that this is a realistic exercise, as samples are very regularly transported during the normal course of business when suspicious cases are investigated."
It just CANNOT be a realistic exercise if you pretend samples get on an aircraft before that aircraft has arrived at Aberdeen (paper exercises require paper timetables).
Nor can any human arrive at an airport and be through the formalities in 10 minutes flat with Dangerous Goods (paper exercised as highly contagious FMDv). The paper IP10 was unrealistic.

Not only do you label me as vexatious, but "obsessive" - I don't think so.
Can the request fairly be seen as obsessive?
Obsessive requests are usually a very strong indication of vexatiousness. An obsessive request will typically fall into several other categories as well.
In Ahilathirunayagam v Information Commissioner and London Metropolitan University EA/2006/0070 (20 June 2007) the requester had been arguing with the university for 13 years over the award of his degree.

I would consider 13 years obsessive too! I have not been on the one track for 13 years with you have I ?

In Hossack v Information Commissioner and DWP EA/2007/0024 (18 December 2007)…… the requester continued a four-year public campaign against the authority, alleging corruption and fraud, threatening legal action and “naming and shaming” individuals

I have not engaged in that sort of public activity have I Mr Leach?

"The fact that disclosure of certain information would be embarrassing or distressing cannot make a request vexatious. The Tribunal confirmed in Betts that: “distress, annoyance, irritation or worry arising from the possible consequences of disclosure cannot turn an otherwise proper request into a vexatious one; indeed that would defeat the purpose of FOIA”.

I contend Mr Leach that my searching questions about IP10 would indeed be embarrassing to Defra - I will not repeat the 'howlers' of the "extracted" time-line; I think that is a major factor for the refusal and the bizarre accusations against me.

If I jump to item 15:
15. On the 20 November 2011 you sent a reply in which you stated that you felt your questions still hadn’t been answered and that the matter in your letter hadn’t been addressed. On the 14 December 2011 a letter was sent to you with the timeline for IP10, as no precise timelines getting sample to the laboratories for any of the simulated IPs had been published as part of the final report.
-------
Any exercise should have time-lines and failing to provide and use them realistically makes the exercise unimpressive and weak and unfit for purpose. My expose of the ludicrous time-line for IP10 proves that conclusively.

Regarding item 16.
16. On the 24 January 2012 you emailed Defra again about IP10 and Exercise Silver Birch. Your request was split into fifteen parts. The query was treated as RFI 4538.

Here we have proof of the pudding - a total abdication of admitting glorious errors in that invented time-line for IP10 which was my, "proper or justified cause" in asking those very detailed questions Sir.

You charge me with not having, "any serious or purpose or value":
3. Does the request lack any serious purpose or value?
We have consistently informed you that during exercise silver birch no physical movements of samples took place, however we did release to you the extracted timeline for getting samples from Inverurie to Pirbright. However, your continuing correspondence into the precise timeline for IP10 now includes requests for the actual weight of samples (there were none), sight of the forms that were issued (there were none), and what route planner was used to plan the journey from Gatwick to Pirbright (there was none). Given that we have explained that this was a paper exercise, your questions on samples serve no serious purpose.

My probing questions were not intended to cause distress, disruption or irritation. The fact that I have shown that "extracted timeline" to be quite impossible and unachievable proves the notion that Exercise Silver Birch's IP10 was NOT a realistic and believable play on FMD which could attract serious consideration.
For all I knew, if you could extract a timeline, there may have been an exploratory attempt to go through the motions, on paper, of what sort of samples were taken/weight/and the length of time it actually takes to complete form filling, never mind the drive Gatwick to Pirbright - I realise it's a paper exercise but it does not need to stop there. For any simulation to be realistic it has to have body and imaginary bits that fit; IP10 never fitted anything, as I have shown, thus it was NOT realistic.

Guidlines suggest, "However, an apparent lack of serious purpose or value is not enough on its own to make a request vexatious. The FOIA is not generally concerned with the motives of the applicant, but with transparency for its own sake."

Transparency for its own sake has been shut off to me has it not?

Guidlines say, "You should therefore not dismiss a request solely for this reason, and should be aware that even a request that seems spurious or tedious to you may have genuine value to the individual."

This individual had "a request", and the more detailed questions I asked about IP10 were indeed to have a genuine value to this individual, but I have been denied.
Had you said for the outset, "we did not cover or consider any of the actions your 15 questions relating to IP10 raised" would have been the transparent answer to my last FoI Act 2000 question.

I have previously acknowledged that, "no physical movements of samples took place" so there's no need to flog that dead horse; my intention, purpose and sought after value, was to extract how realistic Defra believed Exercise Silver Birch would be relating to IP10 given the extraordinary timeline extracted.
If the 'players' cannot act out the WHOLE simulation, then the exercise has limited value. If Defra experiment with paper simulations of a large thus significant FMD outbreak in the UK, one would imagine those involved should act out fully what they would have to do, and timing is everything.

Whilst I apologise sincerely for causing you and the department to expend extensive time and resources, I was not aware that your department was likely to exceed the "appropriate limit" nor was I ever made aware that any of my FoI Act 2000 were likely to, not least my last set of questions.
Had you replied at some point with words to the effect, "your multiple questions are likely to exceed the appropriate financial limit, can you trim some out" then I would have obliged and complied.

The dead-end refusal is not something I am happy about, and to this end I shall be making a complaint to Mr Brendan Walsh about your response dated 22 February 2012 Ref: RFI4538

Yours sincerely,

Captain Bryn Wayt

Captain Bryn Wayt left an annotation ()

Consider this. "Dangerous Goods" are to be put on an internal flight in the UK courtesy Defra. The timing given is this:
15:30 – samples arrive at the airport
15:40 – samples loaded onto flight

Could YOU manage those timings?

I am of course deeply upset that I have been labelled by Defra as "vexatious" (sect 14) and "obsessive"(1) and perhaps a, 'significant burden'(2) along with not having, 'any serious purpose or value'(3) in asking Defra for answers to my FoI questions - derived from the 16 (sixteen) incidents referred to in the letter of denial of service/refusal.

I have made a total of 31 FoI Act 2000 requests.
Now let's see where that stands in the "significant burden" to the state, or "any serious purpose or value" weighting or being "obsessive".
I do not wish to disrespect nor deride the following people when I give their total FoI requests, it's merely for comparative purposes.
Mirrorball - 128
Christian Lister - 247
Ms Dee Speers - 299
Ms Susan Davis -301
and finally
Mr Steve Ellibank - 628

What does the jury think?

Captain Bryn Wayt

Dear Defra/IP10 planner,

I know you won't read this in full, but I hope millions of others around the world do, for they will see through the dim-witted arrogance that defines Defra.
That your Internal Revue FAILED to acknowledge IP10 was a paper-farce can be judged by the blinkered and gagged refusal to acknowledge the fictitious nonsense somebody fed into the whole theatrics: introducing lies, even for excercise purposes, is a deceit that devalues the whole game plan.

Look at it again Defra - 10 minutes getting Dangerous Goods (samples) onto an aircraft (that hasn't even arrived yet) is pure science fiction. You could not get yourself onto an aircraft in 10 minutes after arriving at an airport!

The relevant timeline is below:
10:00 – call received reporting suspicion [ 8th Nov ]
11:15 - duty Veterinary Officer arrives at the premises
13:00 – Duty VO commences sample gathering
14:30 – samples driven to Aberdeen Airport
15:30 – samples arrive at the airport
15:40 – samples loaded onto flight
17:00 – flight ETD
18:45 – flight ETA
19:20 – sample hand-over
20:30 – ETA Laboratory
01:00 – earliest notification of analysis. [ 9th Nov ]

As I have said before, "Here we have proof of the pudding - a total abdication of admitting glorious errors in that invented time-line for IP10 which was my, "proper or justified cause" in asking those very detailed questions Sir."

You are fooling nobody Defra; and when the next FMD outbreak arrives in the UK, I foresee another action replay of FMD2001. There is nothing in your present planning or psyche that suggests otherwise. God help us.

Yours sincerely,

Captain Bryn Wayt

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