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Senior MPI staff take the stand at the Kiwifruit Claim hearing
Senior Advisors at New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries have taken the stand in the Kiwifruit Claim at the High Court in Wellington, as the case enters its seventh week.
The case was brought following the outbreak of the disease Psa in November 2010 which spread throughout the industry. 212 claimants are seeking accountability and compensation from the Ministry of Primary Industries for over NZ$376m of losses suffered in the outbreak.
Photo: Vines at the property of first plaintiff' Strathboss Kiwifruit Ltd
The defence are refuting claims by the plaintiffs that Psa was a known disease to border officials around the world, and that by not imposing strict requirements for the importation of the pollen the MPI was negligent in its actions. Part of the defence's argument is that the research available then was different compared to now, in hindsight.
Continuing on from last week, Stephen Butcher finished giving evidence. He was the Manager of the Plant Imports and Exports Group at MPI, who oversaw the development of import requirements for plant products. His evidence covered how import standards are set in New Zealand and the factors that MPI would consider when setting an Import Health Standard.
Earlier, the Court heard from former MAF/MPI staff member, Gerard Clover, who in his role with Plant Health and Environment Laboratory (PHEL), supervised the internal literature review on plant pests and diseases transmitted by pollen. Mr Clover’s evidence focused on the import health standard for nursery stock, and the internal literature review which was relied on when the first permit to import kiwifruit pollen was issued.
Four other members are also scheduled to give evidence this week, including Melanie Newfield who is a team manager of the Plants and Pathways Risk Assessment team at MPI. Her brief will be looking at risk analysis and how it has evolved within the Ministry. Vivian Campbell is a Senior Advisor in the Plant Germplasm Imports Team at MPI, and is responsible for advising decision makers about imports of nursery stock. Fiona Wilmott works in the MPI Cargo Risk Profiling Team, now called the Target Evaluation Team. She was one of the team members who initially dealt with the consignment of kiwifruit pollen from China.
Franciose Petter, the Assistant Director at European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO, is set to appear via video link, while the plaintiff witness is scheduled to come back for cross examination.
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