Agchem sales case collapse

12 October 2001

Agchem sales case collapse

A COURT case against a merchant accused of selling unapproved pesticides has collapsed raising hopes that some of the restrictions stopping farmers buying cheaper chemicals from abroad will be lifted.

The NFU says the case gives "moral encouragement" as it prepares for a Court of Appeal hearing later this month. The union is challenging the UKs current interpretation of a European law with the hope of making it easier for individual farmers to import sprays.

A judge at Middlesborough Crown Court directed the jury to return non-guilty verdicts on four charges of selling unapproved pesticides against Hall Farm Merchants (Gatenby) Ltd and its director Gerald McDonald on Tuesday (Oct 9). The prosecution decided not to proceed with another six charges.

The case arose in 1999 after Mr McDonald sold imported pesticides before a parallel import licence had come through from the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD).

Judge Moorhouse upheld the need for an approval system for imports of chemicals into the UK, a point that has been welcomed by the PSD. But he directed the jury to a non-guilty verdict after hearing that all of the pesticides that were the subject of the charges were identical to pesticides already available for sale in the UK.

Robert Madge, NFU senior legal adviser, said the ruling did not change the law but the union was encouraged by the judges view.

The NFU will be arguing at the Court of Appeal on Oct 23 that imports of chemicals which are "broadly similar" should be allowed and not just those which are "absolutely identical". &#42

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