Goodman firm says horse meat crisis has changed it for the better
ABP Food Group says business grew by €100m despite the scandal
Court actions: Reputations in the dock
At the height of the horse meat crisis, when blame was being thrown around like snuff at a wake, it was predicted that the lawyers would be busy for some time to come.
And they are. One such case was settled in September after ABP Food Group took an action against Cheshire-based Norwest Foods for supplying it with beef containing horse DNA.
At the time of the crisis, ABP owned the Silvercrest plant which produced the infamous burger which contained 29 per cent equine DNA relative to meat content. One of ABP’s suppliers was Norwest Foods, which was co-founded by Ray MacSharry Jnr, son of the former EU Commissioner of the same name.
ABP said it had agreed to accept a financial settlement from Norwest but details were subject to a confidentiality agreement. Norwest apologised and said: “Norwest acknowledges that it may have unknowingly and unwittingly supplied contaminated beef products contrary to the terms of Norwest’s contract with ABP.”
ABP is also involved in High Court proceedings against Polish firm Food Service for an alleged breach of contract relating to their supply of beef containing equine DNA to Silvercrest. The Polish company denied the allegations and said it would sue ABP after it had established its innocence.
ABP Food Group chief executive Paul Finnerty said the legal actions were about accountability. “This is not about money,” he said. “For us this is all about reputation and accountability. There is a view expressed in Europe and in the UK that there has been inadequate accountability, that there have been no prosecutions arising out of the source of this problem.”
Asked if any other cases were looming, he said: “We are keeping our position open with regard to one other situation. It comes down to the case and the merits of the evidence that one has.”
Meanwhile, ABP is being sued for alleged defamation by Martin McAdam of McAdam Food Products Ltd. In the High Court proceedings, the Co Monaghan meat trader has claimed that ABP deliberately made “false and malicious allegations” about him and his business to deflect media attention at the height of the horse meat controversy.
Mr McAdam said he did not supply Silvercrest with meat that tested positive for horse DNA. In recent days, he told The Irish Times he wanted to bring the legal action against ABP “as soon as the courts allow, so therefore I hope it could be spring or early summer when case can be heard”. Mr Finnerty said ABP would “vigorously” defend that action. He said ABP had not been sued by any other firm in connection with the horse meat incident.