There is evidence that the recent English Foot-and-mouth outbreak could have been started deliberately by someone who stole a test tube of the virus from a laboratory. A vial of the virus was stolen from a secret government lab at Porton Down in Wiltshire two months before the crisis began.

A senior military source from the laboratory told the Sunday Express newspaper that ?A phial appears to have gone missing from one of the labs following a routine audit last year.” The laboratory also contains samples of smallpox, TB, anthrax and Ebola.

The paper goes on to say that ?Ministry officials were informed immediately and an investigation was launched initially by Special Branch and then by MI5, who are interested in the activities of animal rights protesters.?

Radical animal rights activists have stated they are glad that Foot-and-mouth is spreading, because it demonstrates how badly cattle are treated when they are slaughtered for food.

Timber merchants say they were approached by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in early February, before the outbreak was confirmed, to supply wood for the pyres which are used to burn the diseased animals that have been killed. Agriculture minister Nick Brown insisted that this was part of a ?regular contingency planning exercise,? and added, ?There are a number of urban legends doing the rounds that the ministry knew about this disease before. That is not true.?

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