Farmer aims to put minister in the dock

A FARMER is planning to take a Government minister to court because he did not receive his annual payment. Paul Bateman, of Westhay Farm in Banwell, plans to put Margaret Beckett, the secretary of state for environment, before a judge after he failed to r

A FARMER is planning to take a Government minister to court because he did not receive his annual payment.Paul Bateman, of Westhay Farm in Banwell, plans to put Margaret Beckett, the secretary of state for environment, before a judge after he failed to receive the Single Farmer's Payment (SFP) by the due date of October 31 last year and the subsequent deadline of February 28 this year.All he has received is a letter informing him of the amount he is still owed, in Euros.Following reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2003, all farmers are meant to receive one annual payment, the SFP, instead of a series of individual payments.Mr Bateman, who is owed around £2,000, said: "The Government has made the system so complicated, with different rates for different farms instead of a flat rate. There is a simpler system in Scotland and Wales so I don't see why it can't be the same in England."Very few farmers have received this payment. I've had calls from farmers as far away as Yorkshire giving their support and saying they wish they'd thought of it."Weston MP John Penrose is backing Mr Bateman's campaign.Mr Penrose said: "This is a real David and Goliath story. If the Government was a company it would have been in court and declared bankrupt long ago. I will be raising this in the House of Commons with the minister as soon as possible.


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