13 November 2000
No charges against meat protesters
By FWi staff
FARMERS arrested during a protest at a Welsh meat plant have been told they will not face any charges.
The six farmers were part of a group of 150 producers demonstrating at the St Merryn Meat cutting plant at Merthyr Tydfil, against Irish beef imports.
During the demonstration early on 16 October, some protesters entered the premises to collect evidence on the quantities of Irish beef being processed.
Six men were subsequently arrested in connection with conspiracy to cause damage to the plant and released on police bail while investigations continued.
It was reported that this related to hygiene regulations being breached.
But on Monday (13 November), the day they were due to report to the police, a spokeswoman for Merthyr Tydfil police confirmed that no charges would be brought.
The men were informed of the decision by letter, she said.
Among those arrested was leading fuel-tax protester David Handley, chairman of the Peoples Fuel Lobby.
Mr Handley said: “Im very relieved at the outcome, but we shouldnt have been arrested in the first place as we did nothing wrong.”
Protesters had claimed that the company is buying large amounts of Irish beef in preference to the more expensive home-produced product.
St Merryn Meat said Irish beef formed only 1% of the beef found in Merthyr Tydfil, and a similar percentage of the companys total beef requirements.