16 August 1999
Record fine for unlicensed sprays

By FWi staff

AN Isle of Wight farmer must pay a record fine for the illegal use of chemicals on his sweetcorn just days before it was harvested and sent to leading retailers.

Colin Boswell, of Mersley Farm, Newchurch was fined £220,000 and £16,862.83 costs in a hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday.

Mr Boswell, a county councillor, pleaded guilty on 11 counts on the misuse of the health and safety law.

The judge has ordered the fine to be paid within 14 days and, if not, Mr Boswell could face up to three years in prison.

A spokesman from the Health and Safety Executive described it as a landmark case involving national supermarkets.

He said Mr Boswell had shown a blatant disregard for health and safety and hopes that the severity of the fine will act as deterrent to other farmers.

“The effect on Mr Boswell could well be catastrophic. Hes a well-known figure and the huge penalty will not just be financial but also social.”

The Health and Safety Executive started its investigations in 1997 when two former members of Mr Boswells staff made the allegations at an industrial tribunal, after being made redundant.

On investigating the case, the HSE found Mr Boswell had used a cocktail of unlicensed chemicals on his sweet corn.

Two of the chemicals in question had foreign labels and the German one had no approval for use in the UK.

Mr Boswell said in his defence that he would no longer be involved with the farm – following the incident his business has suffered heavily and the farm is up for sale.

A spokesman from Tesco, one of the supermarkets Mr Boswell had supplied, welcomed the news, saying he was very happy with the level of the charge.

“Food safety cant be compromised and cutting corners wont help in the long run,” he added.