Thursday, 10 March 2011

"Honest and straightforward" - RIP Phil Brown

A death certificate has finally been issued for Phil Brown, a prize-winning pig farmer from Inskip near Preston who died almost four years ago. It comes after the coroner at his inquest concluded the then 62 year-old family man, who left behind a wife and three sons, had died of natural causes after developing a blood clot while in Chorley Hospital for an operation.

Brown, described at his funeral by the Reverend David Gaskell as “honest and straightforward”, was buried in the same cemetery as his youngest son Robert, who lived for only an hour after being born prematurely in 1991 with no frontal brain, his heart inside out and intestines outside the body.

The decision ends any hope that someone in authority may finally recognise that the devastation of their once thriving family business, Phil’s health and the death of Robert were all related to the unannounced arrival of rogue pig feed on their farm towards the end of the 1980s.

Documents were to later reveal that this had had no laboratory tests undertaken in Britain before being introduced. It resulted in pigs being born with patches of flesh like raw meat all over their bodies. Afterwards sows started giving birth to dead and mummified young.

Phil Brown’s herd, from which he’d won a number of prizes at major farming shows, was to be decimated and wife Diane’s inhaling of dust when feeding the pig’s was to bring tragic consequences for the couple’s fourth son. The Brown’s were also concerned that some of the pigs they had sold and which had entered the human food chain could have caused health problems for consumers.

Determined to find out exactly what had been added to the feed Phil Brown waged a tireless campaign, seeking answers from his pig food suppliers – the South West Lancashire Farmers Co-operative, the producers of the feed BP PLC and the company responsible for its importation BP Nutrition [UK] Limited.

Faced with a brick wall he sought support from the NFU, MAFF/DEFRA and the Health and Safety Executive. All to no avail, whilst solicitors who could possibly have helped proved less than useful.

A business worth £600,000 was destroyed and in 2005 his bank wrote to say they were intending to issue proceedings to re-possess the farm.  Undeterred, with a Big Issue in the North article helping to alert others to his cause, he battled on and he was just starting to get the business on a more even footing at the time of his death. Unwilling to see all his father’s hard work go to waste his son Richard subsequently took on, with success, the management of the farm and it’s now no longer under threat from the bank.

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