Hopes for a full public inquiry into the UK's recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease were dashed this week. The High Court in London has ruled that a group of farmers, hoteliers and vets did not have a case to argue that the government had acted unlawfully in refusing to hold an inquiry.

The group of 13 plaintiffs said the three short inquiries into the outbreak and how it was handled were wholly inadequate and would do very little to rebuild confidence among those worst affected. The current Lessons Learned inquiry should have been full and open, they argued.

However, Lord Justice Simon Brown denied the farmers had a legal case when they argued that Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett had broken the law by not holding a full public inquiry.

"It is, to my mind, pre-eminently a political decision and one for which the government will ultimately have to answer at the ballot box," he said. He also refused the group leave to appeal.