14 May 2001
Police probe St Merryn Meat fire

By John Burns, south-west England correspondent

POLICE are investigating a fire which destroyed a North Devon abattoir owned by one of Britains biggest meat-processing companies.

North Devon Meat, operated by St Merryn Meat – which supplies Tesco – was gutted by the fire, which started at Torrington on Sunday (13 May).

A second St Merryn abattoir at Bodmin, Cornwall, received a bomb alert, and a suspicious package was delivered to its premises at Victoria, Cornall.

Losing the Torrington abattoir is a major blow to local farmers under foot-and-mouth restrictions because it was effectively the only outlet for livestock.

It employs more than 200 people, slaughtering cattle, sheep and pigs.

A St Merryn Meat spokesman said North Devon Meat had been working to capacity, and that capacity would have to be replaced as soon as possible.

“We are looking to transfer production to other sites and making every effort to ensure there is an outlet available for this area,” he said.