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£260m foot-and-mouth bills probe goes on

Investigations are still ongoing into invoices submitted by 57 contractors employed by the Government during the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic, a report revealed this week.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs challenged bills totalling £700 million submitted by 130 contractors after the outbreak, complaining of irregularities including excessive charges for plant and labour, use of sub-standard materials and shredding of vital documents.

Settlements have been reached with 73 contractors, with savings to Defra totalling £40 million.

But the remaining bills - together worth £260 million - are still under investigation, with a number of contractors facing court action and Defra hopeful of clawing back a further £17 million at least, according to the report by Whitehall spending watchdog the National Audit Office.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak cost the UK a total of more than £3 billion.

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