THE widower of an Oxfordshire CJD victim has welcomed a study aimed at predicting how many people could die from the human form of mad cow disease.

Terry Bishop, whose wife, Jayne, died of the disease two years ago, believes the report may prevent scaremongering.

But he is still angry that the previous Conservative government failed to issue public health warnings about BSE mad cow disease in the 1980s.

Yesterday, Government-funded experts revealed they had found no signs of variant CJD in 3,000 tonsil and appendix specimens removed in operations since the 1980s, but warned the results should not be seen as an all-clear. The scientists, from the CJD surveillance unit in Edinburgh, and Derriford hospital in Plymouth, pointed out these were the first findings from a survey that will eventually examine tissue from 18,000 samples.

The Government's chief medical officer, Prof Liam Donaldson said: The methods of analysis used on the small sample of specimens have some limitations.

In addition, we do not know at what point in the incubation period tissues such as tonsils or appendices would turn positive, how long the incubation period would be, or even whether any individuals who were found positive would necessarily go on to develop the disease. Despite the uncertainty, Mr Bishop, 57, of Farm Close Road, Wheatley, said he hoped the study would stem public panic about a possible epidemic of CJD.

The father-of-two said: "People will always jump on the bandwagon and produce with theories that cause scaremongering.

"Hopefully, they will always be proved wrong.

"It's easy in hindsight to say they should have done this and that, but they had a report done in the 1980s and decided they had covered every avenue of safety. "But I think they should have come out and told the nation straightaway if they had any doubts at all just to give us the option of eating beef or not. Some terrible mistakes were made."

Now Mr Bishop, along with the families of other CJD victims, is waiting for the final BSE inquiry report from Lord Justice Philips before starting legal action against the Government.