Malcolm Ferguson represented the people of Iona at the Commission's hearing in Lanark. In his opening statement he alleges that:
[...]a bull infected with foot-and-mouth disease was bought in the south by the late factor for his own stock in Mull, but on observing that he was infected with the disease, was landed in Iona, by which our cattle in the whole island became infected, and some of them died by it.
That the late factor sent sheep which were infected with scab and other diseases on to the island to winter ; these sheep strayed on our crofts and common pasture, and infected our sheep with those diseases which were never known before on the island ; and fearing we might drive them away he ordered our dogs to be killed, and actually sent his gamekeeper to kill them.
Upon interrogation by Sir Kenneth Mackenzie and Lord Napier, further details emerge
44207. There is a reference here to the factor having introduced disease into the island by having sent a diseased bull to Iona, but he sent this to his own farm ?
—It was brought from the south for his own farm, but it seems that when it was seen the animal was diseased it was landed in Iona.
44212. And you think he was aware this bull was diseased when he sent it to Iona ?
—I think that was the object, so that it would not go to his own farm.
44213. It did go to his own farm, but it was a farm, you say, where there was no stock ?
—Yes. Of course, I cannot give any satisfactory answer about the bull, because the bull was in Iona before I ever was there.
44214. Lord Napier
—Is there any foot-and-mouth disease there now ?
—No, I never heard of any foot-and-mouth disease in Iona since.
44215. Or scab ?
—Yes, the scab is very prevalent in Iona.
44220. Will you explain a little more fully about this bull. Was the bull taken, in the first instance, to the farm of the factor in the Ross of Mull ?
—I was not in Iona at the time, but I understand it was in this way. The bull was bought in the south of Argyllshire, and was brought to Mull, and when it was found that the animal was diseased it was landed in Iona, so that the disease would not spread through Mull, or through the factor's stock there.
44221. So, to save the Ross of Mull, Iona was sacrificed ?
—Yes, that was the way we understood the matter.