Ministers are preparing an embarrassing retreat on foot and mouth, accepting that closing the countryside and lighting massive funeral pyres was wrong, and conceding that vaccinating, rather than slaughtering, animals would be considered much more seriously in any future epidemic.
Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, is expected to signal the U-turn this week in a response to three official inquiries sharply critical of the handling of the outbreak. The change of heartvindicates The Independent on Sunday's virtually lone stance during the early weeks of last year's crisis.
Ministers also now accept that most of the disease was spread by farmers themselves, and that many made money through massive abuses of the compensation system.
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