Collapsed case raises chemical hope

12 October 2001

Collapsed case raises chemical hope

By Isabel Davies

A COLLAPSED court case has raised hopes that restrictions preventing farmers from buying cheaper chemicals from abroad will be lifted.

The National Farmers Union says the collapsed case gives “moral encouragement” as it prepares for a hearing later this month.

Union leaders are challenging the UK interpretation of a European law with the hope of making it easier for individual farmers to import sprays.

The challenge comes after a judge at Middlesborough Crown Court directed a jury to return non-guilty verdicts on charges of selling unapproved sprays.

The prosecution decided not to proceed with another six charges against Hall Farm Merchants (Gatenby) Ltd on Tuesday (9 October).

The case arose in 1999 after Hall Farm Merchants and its director Gerald McDonald decided to sell imported pesticides.

Mr McDonald decided to sell the pesticides before a parallel import licence had come through from the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

Judge Moorhouse upheld the need for an approval system for imports of chemicals into the UK – a point that the directorate welcomed.

But he directed the jury to the not-guilty verdict after hearing the imported pesticides were identical to pesticides already available 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.

He will argue at the Court of Appeal on 23 October that imports of broadly similar chemicals should be allowed in additional to identical products.


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