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Errington Cheese jubilant after judicial review victory
Errington Cheese jubilant after judicial review victory

02/11/2018

The founders of Errington Cheese are delighted after winning a further legal dispute with South Lanarkshire Council in relation to four batches of cheese confiscated by the Local Authority in 2016.

 

Yesterday (November 1) the Court of Session ruled that Sheriff Weir had ‘misdirected’ himself, acting ‘unreasonably and irrationally at common law, contrary to the approach required as matter of EU Law.’

Sheriff Weir had accepted the argument from South Lanarkshire that a draft policy document produced by Food Standards Scotland allowed him to condemn the cheese. In doing so Sheriff Weir assumed a policy document can override the requirements of EU regulations - which state if an uncertain organism is suspected in food, a comprehensive risk assessment must be undertaken, before the food can be condemned.

South Lanarkshire Council must now release the three batches of Corra Linn cheese and one of Lanark Blue, although the latter produce is now unsaleable. The company continues to pursue a compensation case against the local authority for both its legal costs in fighting the case and for the business impact of the incorrectly condemned product.

 

Speaking about Lord Bannatyne’s judgement, founder of Errington Cheese, Humphrey Errington said: "This is a significant legal ruling which will have lasting implications for food producers as well as the overall remit of Food Standards Scotland.

 

"Food Standards Scotland can no longer issue enforcement policy if it goes above and beyond what is required in EU regulations.

 

"These actions have been extremely detrimental to our business, with sales falling to as low as 25% of pre-2016 levels, forced to lay off staff and funnel almost all our cash reserves, not to mention personal savings, into a costly legal battle.

 

"We’re delighted the Court of Session has ruled in our favour with the company’s efforts now focussed on getting the business back on track by increasing production and sales, while also coming to a settlement with the local authority over our legal fees and compensation for spoiled produce. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll hopefully be in a position to reemploy some of our loyal workforce.

 

Last month the South Lanarkshire based cheese producer opened up its production facilities to mark the Great British Cheese Day (Sunday, October 21), inviting members of the public onto the farm to taste some cheese and gain an insight into the processes behind it. The event was hugely successful, with hundreds of visitors, some from as far afield as Aberdeen and Cumbria, passing through the doors.

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen said: "This ruling aligns with the science of the case, following hundreds of samples of cheese being extensively tested for E.Coli 157. The court had previously ruled that Errington Cheese was produced in an entirely safe manner, and the very small number of E coli strains that were detected were ones that have never been shown to cause harm to humans. This is an extremely rational decision and hopefully it can go some way to help the Errington’s get the business back on track.”

Sales of Corra Linn have also surged, as distribution increases across the UK.

 

To enquire or find out more information visit thecompany’s website.

 


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