Examination of Witnesses (Questions
WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2002
BENDER CB, MR
80. What worries me about this is that there
may be some money stashed away somewhere and all you know is that
he was said to be bankrupt so you gave up chasing him. You do
not know where the money went so there is no evidence that the
money has gone.
(Mr McNeill) What we do know is that Mr Bowden had
to sell the family farm that had been in the family for three
generations, he had to move out of the area where he had lived
all his life and leave his friends and colleagues.
81. I imagine he would. I imagine the other
people around him might not have been pleased if he had stayed.
(Mr McNeill) I understand your views but I do not
think that demonstrates someone who had a cash pile somewhere
to rely on.
82. It does not demonstrate that there was not
(Mr McNeill) No, I agree with you, but we have no
evidence that was the case. He took one holiday in ten years which
was noted by the judge in his summing up. He went to the Bahamas
for the first holiday in ten years. That is the only example of
largesse that I think we came across.
83. If I was him I would have gone on holiday
quickly before I went on holiday at Her Majesty's pleasure. Can
I ask about the map references. I have not been a boy scout ever
in my life and I do not know very much about maps but my impression
of map references is that basically there is a line at the bottom
of the country and a series of lines all the way up and the numbers
go up as you go up and they go east-west, they start at the low
numbers and get higher as you go across. There must be a section
of numbers between which the entire country lies. I would have
thought from the sound of things that anything out in the Atlantic
must be way outside that entire section of numbers and all you
have really got to do is look at the very first digit and you
could probably say "that cannot be anywhere in the UK".
(Mr Bender) As I said earlier in response to an earlier
question, the requirement of the scheme was simply to identify
the field and as the final four digits were correct the references
did not arouse suspicion.
84. All I am suggesting is that it is rather
odd that somebody who is looking at this sort of form and looks
at the map reference, and must have seen map references on all
sorts of other forms, all of which start, say, with the digit
twoI have no idea what the digit isat the west side
of the United Kingdom, and suddenly here is one that starts with
the digit one. You would have thought that an averagely intelligent
person would have at least asked a question.
(Mr Bender) The requirement more recently, by bringing
in this scheme within the IACS system, is there is an automated
validation check to verify the map references but it was not a
requirement at the time. The requirement simply just said "Where
is the field", and we found it, "is it growing flax?"
85. I understand what the requirements were
and how you have hopefully got round it with systems now. I have
to say the impression I have of the inspectors is somewhat low
afer the evidence of this case. I am quite surprised that you
are very strong in supporting your inspectors and saying that
they were doing their job. They may have been doing their job
but they certainly were not using a bit of common sense.
(Mr MacKinnon) Can I just add what it is the inspectors
are doing. The structure of the map references for IACS purposes
is two letters. The land area of the UK is covered by just two
preceding letters, one is N, one is S, and then there is another
letter after that. That will give you a 100 mile or 100 kilometreI
cannot remember whichblock in which the location is to
be found. There are then four digits which indicate a particular
area within that 100 kilometre block. Then there are four more
digits which will give you an actual centre of a field location.
Now since all our inspectors know where the farm is that they
are going to, all they need to see are those last four digits
to locate the centre of each of the fields they are going to.
Mr Bowden gave 15 field references by four digit references and
if you go to the Ordnance Survey you can indeed find those four
digit references within the 100 kilometre block but you have got
to be there first. Now if he used a structure, the same structure,
as you would expect, for proper co-ordinates, which might be SN12345678
or whatever, he used BR for his local area which was Braunton,
the Ordnance Survey would have said "Well, if it began with
a B and an R, he is somewhere over here whereas the UK is here".
Now that was never at issue, the inspectors were never looking
at that. They knew where his farm was, they were looking for the
fields on that farm.
86. I understand the inspectors were never looking
at it, what I am suggesting to you is that the inspector with
a bit of common sense would say "Why BR because everybody
else has been NS?"
(Mr MacKinnon) No, it really is the systemic problem
that had we cross checked the flax fields with that number against
the IACS numbers, the IACS machine would say "No such base,
there is nothing beginning with BR".
87. If somebody sees the BR and they have never
seen BR before, you would expect them to ask a question.
(Mr Bender) But the climate and the system at the
time allowed the farmer to say "Clover field" and providing
the inspector could identify where Clover field was
88. He could identify Clover field, what I am
saying is he looks at the form, the very first time he looks at
the form he sees "BR", he has never seen BR there before
and he does not even ask a question what BR means. I think that
is extraordinary and I can only repeat that. Can I move on to
ask how much do you spend on the inspectors each year?
(Mr MacKinnon) Sorry, I do not have the salary bill.
We have 400 inspectors.
(Mr McNeill) It is about £16 million a year,
that is including their transportation and accommodation, it is
of that order. We will provide you with the exact figure.
89. You said a moment ago, I think, that flax
was being grown?
(Mr MacKinnon) Yes.
90. On each occasion when the inspectors went
(Mr MacKinnon) Yes.
91. You believed flax was being grown. Paragraph
2.13, the very last sentence says "No one is entirely certain
what crops Joseph Bowden had been growing or which crops were
destroyed in the fires". Are you saying that is not correct?
You are certain that he was growing flax?
(Mr MacKinnon) We did two on the site inspections
of his 1994 crop. The first one was after he had sown it, and
that was done in September 1994. Then we did it again after it
had been harvested, which was in April 1995. At that point you
would have expected flax under the flax scheme to be in the barn,
as you would expect possibly whatever cereals he had got left
to be in the barn but, of course, he was saying at that point
indeed it was sown that the barn had burnt down.
92. I do not think one inspection actually saw
any growing material?
(Mr MacKinnon) That is so.
93. The other one, he tried to inspect but could
not. The inspector came around in 1994 and he found flax. He knows
it was flax.
(Mr MacKinnon) He signed a form saying that was the
case, yes. I cannot obviously re-perform the inspection but, yes,
he was an inspector who had been trained
94. You are sure it was flax?
(Mr Bender) We are sure he was satisfied it was flax.
95. We are at least getting somewhere.
(Mr MacKinnon) It is fair to say that the inspectors
were trained in crop recognition. I think what the report is saying
is that in this particular area, as between linseed and flax,
where there is a very close association that might be a difficult
call to make. Now I do not know.
96. How close is he allowed to go to this material?
(Mr MacKinnon) He is allowed to walk in a growing
crop, for instance, and certainly would be able to inspect.
97. He can pick it up, look at the size and
shape of the leaves?
(Mr MacKinnon) Indeed so, yes.
98. He can look at the size and shape of the
flower, colour of the flower, anything like that. You are saying
the inspectors cannot identify between these two particular groups?
(Mr MacKinnon) At some stages of their development
they are difficult to discern. He is not doing laboratory checks,
he is doing visual checks.
99. Is he allowed to?
(Mr MacKinnon) He could take samples, yes.
6 Note by witness: The budget allocation for
2002-03 is in the region of £11.4m (Pay £8.6m, Non Pay
Running Costs £2.8m). The inspectorate has an external training
budget of £150,000. On top of this, in-house training is
delivered to inspectors on the job through coaching by peers and
managers. There is also mandatory training funded centrally by
RPA and DEFRA. If inspectors require training in map reading and
interpretation then such training is available and will be provided. Back