Cattle cull doubled to clear backlog

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The Independent Online
More than 55,000 cattle are now being culled each week in order to eradicate BSE from the national herd, the Government announced yesterday. The backlog of 400,000 cattle should be completed by Christmas

Roger Freeman, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the doubling of the culling rate was a mark of the Government's determination to clear the backlog.

"That it's been achieved so rapidly is a tribute to the Intervention Board, to slaughtering, rendering and cold storage industries in all parts of the UK," he said.

The cull backlog has been particularly acute in the south west, north west Midlands, and west Wales, where it is hoped the increased slaughter rate will have most effect.

Some 730,000 cattle have already been killed under the scheme. A selective cull, as agreed at the European summit held in Florence in June, has yet to take place.

Six held after Irish arms raid

Six men were being held by police in the Irish Republic last night after a suspected IRA arms dump was uncovered in a remote part of Co Donegal.

Police seized two rifles and an unspecified quantity of explosives and explosive substances at an outhouse near Malin, in the far north of the Inishowen peninsula.

Peer's wife robbed of jewellery

Police were last night hunting three masked raiders who escaped with thousands of pounds of jewellery from the mansion of Lord and Lady McGowan after handcuffing the couple to a radiator.

Duncan McGowan, 58, and his wife Gillie, 55, were alone at their mansion near Alton, Hampshire, when the men forced their way in and threatened them with a gun.

The couple watched as their safe was emptied of all Lady McGowan's jewellery - including a brooch, copied from one worn by the Duchess of York. Lady McGowan managed to knock a phone to the floor and dialled 999.

March shows People Power

The mothers of four murdered children led a march by 200 people past the House of Commons yesterday, demanding more action to protect youngsters from paedophiles.

The People Power rally in Trafalgar Square followed the demonstration by 250,000 people in Brussels last weekend demanding more action to protect children in Belgium.

The organisers of yesterday's event included Beverley Palmer, whose daughter Rosie, three, was murdered in Hartlepool, Cleveland, after going a few yards from her house to buy an ice cream. Ms Palmer said: "I want official recognition to be reintroduced for the term psychopath. It is not enough for courts to be told men have personality disorders, a term not recognised in medicine."

Trust chief quits over Moonies link

The National Family Trust charity has appointed a new chairman to succeed Professor Richard Whitfield, who has quit over criticisms of his links with the Unification Church, the cult known as the Moonies.

Bill Halson, a businessman, is to lead the charity, whose patrons include Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Sir Harry Secombe and which is dedicated to strengthening the family.

Professor Whitfield, a social policy commentator and head of St George's House, Windsor, a religious think-tank founded by the Duke of Edinburgh, caused consternation among charity members when he attended a convention in America in August connected with the Moonies. The visit went against reassurances he gave five years ago, after previous contact with the Moonies alarmed the charity. Louise Jury

Air explosion baffles RAF

The cause of an explosion in the sky which sparked a major air and sea search off the North of Scotland may never be known, searchers said last night.

A major operation was launched off the Butt of Lewis on Saturday night after around a dozen locals reported seeing a mysterious object falling out of the sky.

An RAF Nimrod and helicopter were out again at first light yesterday while a sea search involving a French fishing boat continued.

The search, which covered more than 1,000 square miles of the Atlantic, was called off at lunchtime.

Rare puff ball back on Earth

A 10-year-old girl has amazed mushroom experts by finding a puff ball believed to be extinct in Britain for more than 70 years.

Berkeley's Earth Star - named after the Rev Miles Joseph Berkeley, the Victorian parish priest credited as being the founding father of British mycology - was discovered by Katie Whipp in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Dr David Pegler, head of mycology at Kew Gardens in Richmond, Surrey, which houses 20,000 specimens amassed by Rev Berkeley, said: "It's the best and most surprising find this year." Experts believe the recent hot summers may explain why the fungus has reappeared.

`Independent' writer wins award

Steve Homer, a contributor to The Independent, has been named BT Newspaper Technology Journalist of the Year. Mr Homer received his pounds 1,000 award for a special report on CD-Roms written for The Independent's Network section.

Seven share pounds 23m jackpot

There were seven winners in the National Lottery draw, sharing the estimated jackpot of pounds 23m. The winning numbers were 1, 3, 9, 20, 30 35. The bonus number was 36.