Earl run over in foot-and-mouth row by motorist

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The Earl of Cardigan was run over and injured when he tried to bar a motorist from a forest closed because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The Earl of Cardigan was run over and injured when he tried to bar a motorist from a forest closed because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The motorist allegedly counted to five before driving at the earl, who stood in front of the car at the entrance to the 4,500 acre Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, which he owns. The earl, David Brudenell-Bruce, was thrown on to the bonnet and then into the road where he managed to dial for an ambulance on his mobile telephone. He was treated in hospital for arm, wrist and knee injuries.

He said yesterday: "Seeing that he was determined to come in anyway, I stood about a yard in front of his stationary car, and said I would not permit him to come in. He shouted that he was going to count to five before driving in. I thought he was just bluffing so I stood my ground. However, when he got to five he put the car into gear and knocked me down."

The elderly driver is understood to have been in a long-running dispute with the earl. Wiltshire police confirmed they had spoken to a man.

Meanwhile, hundreds of contract sheep shearers will be issued with licences restricting their movement to stop the further spread of foot-and-mouth. A system of red and green licences will be introduced to allow professional shearers to operate in infected or controlled areas only and to stop them working in parts of the country free of the disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is allowing the shearing or trimming of sheep to go ahead even though it presents "a significant risk", because failure to do so would threaten animal welfare. In warm weather flies lay their eggs in the wool of unshorn sheep, which leads to infestations of maggots. Animals carrying heavy fleeces can die from heat exhaustion.

Every year professional sheep shearers fly from Australia and New Zealand to work the season, travelling from farm to farm and shearing several hundred animals each day. But some fear they may be refused work when they return if they have come into contact with the disease.

After the licences come into effect on June 1, farmers or permanent employees working on individual farms will be the only other people permitted to shear sheep.

* Two new outbreaks of foot- and-mouth were confirmed yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 1591.

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