This document includes redactions, authorised by the Committee, of material which is of a sensitive personal nature or material which in the view of the Committee might be legally actionable were it not subject to parliamentary privilege.
In the matter of an Inquiry before the Committee on Parliamentary Standards
Witness Statement of Owen Paterson
I, Owen William Paterson, say as follows:
1.1 I make this statement in response to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (“the Commissioner”) undated memorandum, as received by me on 16 July 2021. The content of this witness statement is within my own knowledge and is true. I have signed this statement under a perjury declaration.
1.2 I invite the Committee to read this statement and the attached letter to the Commissioner dated 2 July 2021 before I appear in front of the Committee, which is projected to be on 21 September 2021.
1.3 I have fully co-operated with this Inquiry and answered in detail all questions put to me by the Commissioner. I have not breached the Rules of Conduct.
1.4 I wish to appear before the Committee in person and give oral evidence with my advisor present to assist me.
1.5 Further, to the extent that my evidence does not prove to the Committee’s satisfaction that I have not breached the Rules, then I invite the Committee to accept the unchallenged evidence provided by 17 witnesses. These are the only witnesses who give evidence. If the Committee does not accept these written statements, then I ask that any witness whose evidence is not so accepted be called and examined in front of the Committee.
2.1 To assist the Committee, I have summarised the matters referred to by the Commissioner and the basis upon which I assert the Rules have not been breached. This statement then covers the evidence that supports my position.
2.2 The Commissioner finds that I acted as a paid advocate by seeking to promote the products of Randox and Lynn’s and that my actions were intended to give these companies a financial benefit; not that my actions actually did give any financial or other benefit.
2.3 The evidence I have presented to the Commissioner and on which I rely, proves that in each matter where I initiated contact with the Responsible Minister or Public Official then I was acting to address a serious wrong or substantial injustice, which is expressly permitted by the Rules. The Rules on paid advocacy relate to the circumstances in which a Member “initiates” contact.
2.4 Members of Parliament are under a duty to act in the best interests of their constituents and the general public. Where a Member of Parliament becomes aware of any “serious wrong or substantial injustice” then that Member is under a duty to refer it to the Authorities. No more so than when dealing with dangerously contaminated foods consumed by children. In such circumstances the Member is permitted to initiate contact with the responsible minister or the public official(s). Not to do so would obviously prevent an MP from acting in their constituents’ and the wider general public’s best interests.
Contamination of Milk
2.5 In November 2016, in my capacity as a consultant to Randox, I became aware that 12.5% of milk at the point of sale in Ireland (Northern Ireland and the Republic) was contaminated with a concealed, banned, carcinogenic, anti-microbial residue. This was incredibly serious for the consumers and the dairy industry. It simply shouldn’t happen.
2.6 The Commissioner initially found that in referring this to the FSA I acted as a paid advocate, which I found extraordinary. I then provided the Commissioner with witness statements from those who were involved in this issue and whom the Commissioner had not approached, including the Deputy Chair of the FSA, the Chief Vet (who the Commissioner initially said I had not even met which was erroneous) and Directors/Employees of the National Milk Laboratory.
2.7 The Commissioner now accepts that my initial approach to the FSA was not paid advocacy, but then finds that when I followed that up I was engaging in paid advocacy. This is to create a false narrative and is clearly not right.
2.8 The events/facts can easily be summarised as follows.
2.9 As soon as I became aware that contaminated milk was being sold to the general public, I contacted the FSA as a matter of urgency and met the Chair, Deputy Chair and Chief Scientific Advisor, with others present, to pass on the serious findings that had been made. At that meeting I properly declared my interest as I always do. We are agreed there was no paid advocacy in this meeting.
2.10 The following day I sent a confirmatory email which referenced the matters we had discussed. The Commissioner finds that that email is seeking to promote Randox products and I failed to disclose my interest. However:
2.10.1 The email was merely written confirmation of the discussion and as the discussion is accepted by the Commissioner to fall within the exemption and is not paid advocacy, the email confirming that discussion must fall within the same exemption. The Commissioner’s finding to the contrary is illogical.
2.10.2 I declared my interest at the meeting and that is confirmed by the witness evidence. So everyone who received the email had received my declaration of my interest the day before. The finding that there was non-disclosure of my interest is also not correct.
2.11 I then waited almost a year, during which time the FSA progressed matters with the National Milk Laboratory and began routinely to test for the banned, carcinogenic product that had been found and so this should have been eliminated from the food chain. It was right and proper to give the FSA time to address this issue.
2.12 A year after my initial approach I became aware that milk was still contaminated with substances that shouldn’t be there and so I followed up my approach with the FSA because I was concerned that whilst one contaminated product was being checked for, others were not. This was a follow-up to my initial approach and no different from it. The Commissioner finds that this was paid advocacy. I do not see how on one occasion disclosing that milk is contaminated is a serious wrong, but on another occasion, it is not.
2.13 Further, this was one course of dealing within the same initial approach.
2.14 I then set up the Milk Quality Forum which consists of the Chief Veterinary Officer, the National Milk Laboratory, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, and me to improve milk safety. This is my only interest. Both the Chief Vet and representatives of the National Milk Laboratory confirm that I have improved milk safety. Randox is not a member of this forum. I am proud of my achievement which has improved milk quality and safety and did so discreetly.
2.15 The FSA does not test milk. It does not control contracts for the testing of milk and to suggest that there could be any benefit to Randox, by disclosing to the FSA that milk is contaminated is not correct. There was no benefit and there could be no benefit.
2.16 The National Milk Laboratory already had Randox testing equipment.
2.17 Randox has not received any financial or material benefit and could not do so as there was none to receive.
2.18 The Commissioner, having conceded that my approach to the FSA is within the Rules, then asserts that the request that Randox testing equipment was approved by the FSA was a benefit to Randox. It was not a benefit to Randox. It was a benefit to the FSA, as then the FSA could rely on Randox tests without the time and cost of outside verification.
2.19 Further, the Commissioner makes this statement without any evidence whatsoever, which is a cause of serious concern that allegations which are clearly not proven and in respect of which there is no evidence are found against me in a most subjective way. This is a process which is repeated in this inquiry.
2.20 This is almost a mirror image of contaminated milk.
2.21 Kerry Foods, which is one of the world’s largest producers of processed meats and based in Kerry in the Republic of Ireland, launched an “all naturally cured” ham that was said to be chemical free. It was tested and found to contain a concealed, prohibited by law, carcinogenic chemical, namely nitrite extracted from vegetables (celery).
2.22 This had been reported to the FSA in Northern Ireland by, amongst others, the UK’s leading food safety expert, Professor Christopher Elliott, who describes it as the worst case of mis-selling he has ever seen in over 30 years. The FSA in Northern Ireland had taken no action. Kerry Foods were about to launch this dangerous and unlawful product across the rest of the United Kingdom.
2.23 A Member of Parliament in these circumstances is compelled to act to protect their constituents and the general public and that is what I did. I alerted the FSA in London to the contaminated product and as a result Kerry Foods removed the banned, carcinogenic curing agent and launched the product in a safe form.
2.24 So I did not initiate the contact with the FSA. I did though approach the FSA with evidence of the serious harm this product would cause and as a result of my intervention the product was made safe.
2.25 This was of no benefit whatsoever to Lynn’s whose primary product range is bacon and sausages. The Commissioner, without any evidence whatsoever, asserts that I was seeking to clear a competitor’s product to benefit Lynn’s. Not only is there no evidence of this, it is with the greatest respect a figment of the Commissioner’s imagination and not based on any facts whatsoever. All I did was to prevent UK consumers being sold a product that had direct links to colorectal cancer which kills 16,000 per year in the United Kingdom. The product wasn’t removed, it was made safe. It is ham not bacon.
2.26 The Commissioner then references enquiries made by the FSA of Lynn’s, which were made in meetings I attended, relating to Lynn’s curing agent, Prosur. The FSA did not understand that Kerry Foods’ all natural curing agent was not natural at all, but Lynn’s was an entirely natural curing agent derived from lemon juice.
2.27 When the FSA came under attack for effectively ignoring the report of the contaminated ham, the FSA moved into defensive mode and went on the attack against Lynn’s. The FSA raised the issue of Lynn’s curing agent (Prosur). This issue was not initiated by me and is not within the paid advocacy rules. I simply helped Lynn’s to explain to the FSA that their product was completely different from Kerry Foods and perfectly safe.
2.28 This has been explained to the Commissioner several times but the memorandum still misreports the evidence and facts; it does not address these two entirely separate issues.
2.29 I would ask the Committee to give careful consideration to what the Commissioner is asking you to do, namely to censure a Member of Parliament for drawing to the attention of the FSA, food that was as a matter of fact contaminated with unlawful, dangerous, carcinogenic substances. That is what I reported. I do wonder what the headline would be – MP rebuked for telling FSA that milk and ham are contaminated with a concealed cancer-causing substance.
2.30 If I became aware of similar facts tomorrow, I would unhesitatingly do the same thing, as it is my duty to protect the public.
2.31 These matters were referenced by The Guardian as part of a political campaign against me, because of my political beliefs. However, this has nothing to do with Brexit and has nothing to do with benefitting either of the companies. It is about protecting consumers and I make no apology for doing that.
Better Calibration of Medical Equipment
2.32 It came to my attention that medical equipment, which was a significant part of the overseas aid budget, was not producing good health outcomes as there was no simple cost effective method calibrating the equipment which is a central part of its use.
2.33 Randox initiated an approach to Priti Patel who had told Members of Parliament that her department, then DfID, wanted new companies with new technologies to add value. I followed up that approach first with Priti Patel in a very short conversation in the division lobby and I was then contacted by the relevant Minister, then the Rt Hon Rory Stewart MP, who I met with a number of public officials who he brought to the meeting.
2.34 I did not initiate the contact.
2.35 The Commissioner finds that I initiated the contact, on the basis that Randox wrote to Priti Patel on 28 July and I followed that up on 12 October, which is said to be the initiation. The Commissioner refers to this as being three months later and so separate from the initial contact due only to the passage of time. This is not three months in the Parliamentary calendar. First, there was a Summer recess until 5 September and then the conference season until 10 October and so in actual working time within Parliament, my approach to Priti Patel was a few working days after the letter was sent. That is the reality.
2.36 From reading the memorandum I think the Commissioner would accept that I did not initiate the approach, but for the fact she says I waited three months. If it had been a few days then it was not my initiation, which is the reality. This misunderstanding flows from the lack of any investigation, and, perhaps, from a lack of understanding of the workings of Parliament.
2.37 The Commissioner has not sought to obtain any witness evidence and didn’t meet me until after she had formed her views.
2.38 I then provided the Commissioner with an email from Rory Stewart in which he confirms no paid advocacy took place at the meeting and, instead, that I “made arguments about the principle of good laboratory testing, as someone who was concerned to make sure that UK tax money was well spent overseas, and to achieve better healthcare outcomes”.
2.39 So the only witness evidence the Commissioner has is from me, Priti Patel and Rory Stewart, each of whom confirms I acted properly. I respectfully assert that the Commissioner cannot undertake a fair process by ignoring the only witness evidence she has.
2.40 The Commissioner does not generally accept my evidence on key issues and has not explained why this is her position. I have been a Member of Parliament for 24 years, a Cabinet Minister and before that I ran an international business. Many people may disagree with my views, but no one has ever accused me of not being honest and truthful.
2.41 If the Commissioner chooses not to accept my evidence then she should explain to me what her reservations are, give me an opportunity to comment and her objective analysis should then be recorded in her report. This has not happened and that means the memorandum is not in accordance with natural justice.
2.42 Further, as noted earlier, I have provided 17 witness statements, which corroborate my evidence and again the Commissioner has largely chosen to ignore the witness evidence because it does not fit her narrative and that is not fair or in accordance with natural justice. It is a standard rule that unchallenged witness evidence should be adopted and followed. If the Commissioner doesn’t want to accept the witness evidence, then she should challenge the witnesses and set out her objective reasons for not following their evidence. It is beyond argument that the witness statements are all relevant to the Commissioner’s investigation.
2.43 The Commissioner bases her case predominantly on FSA emails discovered under a Freedom of Information Request. Some of these emails are anonymous and no attempt has been made to establish who the author was or their state of knowledge of the matters referred to. Such emails are at times preferred to witnesses who have signed statements under perjury declarations and that is not in accordance with natural justice. It is not a fair and even-handed process.
Declarations of Interest
2.44 The Commissioner finds contrary to ten witness statements that I have not declared my interests on all occasions. The witness evidence which is covered in detail in this statement proves that is incorrect and the Commissioner had these statements long before she arrived at her conclusion.
2.45 It is instructive to note that the Commissioner initially accused me of not declaring my interest without speaking to me or to any witnesses. After I had supplied the evidence to show that this is simply not true, the Commissioner appears unable to follow the evidence provided and withdraw the accusation in its entirety.
2.46 Rather a false narrative is created in which I am found not to have declared my interest to witnesses who advise that I had. In every meeting I declare my interest. On a couple of occasions in emails following up I didn’t record this. But I had already declared it. Everyone I dealt with knew I was a consultant as I declared it and the evidence proves this.
Use of Parliamentary Facilities
2.47 The Commissioner says that I misused Parliamentary facilities by conducting consultancy business in my office and on two occasions sending House of Commons’ stationery.
2.48 I accepted from the outset, in my first letter to the Commissioner, 16 January 2020, that on two occasions a member of staff providing cover for maternity leave had wrongly used House of Commons’ stationery and I apologised. I think it is very sad that my apology has not been accepted and this aspect closed.
2.49 I have provided witness statements from senior members of the House of Commons, including a senior Government Whip and Professor Sir Oliver Letwin, who opposed me on Brexit, which confirms that during the minority Government I was required to remain within the precincts of Parliament because of the intense activity that was then taking place.
2.50 The number of meetings we are talking about is only 2.5% of the total number of meetings I had on non-Parliamentary business so 97.5% took place away from Parliament. This statistic alone shows that wherever possible my meetings were not within Parliament.
2.51 The Commissioner has evidence from several senior MPs which confirms I did not breach the rules in clear terms. In deciding I did, the Commissioner has not provided any witness evidence from any MPs or Government officials and ignores the evidence from a Government Whip.
Length of Inquiry
2.52 This matter has taken an unacceptably long time and has put an incredible strain on my family [redacted].
2.53 I have answered all the Commissioner’s questions. I found myself subject to an investigation which seemed ever expanding in its scope, without any time frame or disclosed process. I was unable to make complaint. I was for long periods left in the dark and unable to function as an MP should.
2.54 Had the Commissioner not had Parliamentary Privilege I would have issued proceedings over a year ago to have this matter reviewed by a High Court judge and challenge the fairness of the process.
2.55 One question I have asked the Commissioner several times is to disclose all information received from third parties, not just the documentation provided in response to the Freedom of Information Requests, but the requests themselves and all and any other requests and emails. The Commissioner has refused to do this. So the investigation is not transparent.
2.56 I do not know what investigations have been undertaken. I do not know why witnesses were not interviewed. It may be that those behind this investigation and who are supplying documentary evidence, did interview witnesses who supported my case and so that material has been filtered out. It may be that documents have been obtained and not passed to the Commissioner. I am entitled to know all of this and can only do so by having proper disclosure of all third-party material sent to the Commissioner and to see all email communications etc.
2.57 I would hope that anyone considering this matter will see that this investigation is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. There has been no proper investigation. I have had to provide the witness evidence and as that confirms my evidence is correct it has been largely ignored.
2.58 I offered to the Commissioner that we should agree that her memorandum be reviewed by a High Court judge so that the Committee Members would have the benefit of a judge’s opinion on the fairness of the investigation. The Commissioner did not respond to this request.
3 My Relevant Background
3.1 I am and have been for 24 years (since 1997) the Member of Parliament for North Shropshire. I have an unblemished record as a Member of Parliament. I have not previously been accused of any breach of the Rules of Conduct.
3.2 I was appointed the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 2007. In 2010, in the Coalition Government, I was appointed the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
3.3 In 2012 I became the Secretary of State for DEFRA. I held this position until 2014.
3.4 I am from a farming family and I have lived in a rural farming constituency all of my life. I represent a rural constituency. From my time as Secretary of State in Defra and my background I have a huge interest in food safety.
3.5 Prior to entering Parliament, I ran a large tanning business. This gave me considerable experience in dealing with new technologies. I learnt how important they are in remaining competitive in a tough world. I also dealt with demanding consumers and many difficult issues. As a result, I have considerable expertise in businesses processing animal products using innovative technologies.
4 My Consultancies
4.1 The following year after I left Government in 2014, I was approached by Randox Laboratories Limited (“Randox”), a company based in Northern Ireland, who asked if I would become a consultant for them.
4.2 Randox is a world-renowned diagnostic company, which has developed new and unique diagnostic processes that improve many aspects of life including health and food safety.
4.3 My role is as an ambassador and to give Randox strategic advice. Randox’s clients are large international organisations which I am used to engaging with. It is now rapidly growing as it is at the forefront of new technologies, which I am passionately interested in. I give advice and assistance very much on a policy level. For example, Randox may wish to engage with an entity overseas and ask me from my experience how best that can be achieved.
4.4 I do not have a role in dealing with sales or product promotion or any direct commercial aspect of the business.
4.5 Randox engages with the UK Government on a daily basis and I have no role or involvement in those dealings. For example, as a leading diagnostics company Randox has been a major provider of Covid tests. I have had absolutely nothing to do with this. I haven’t contacted or engaged with anyone in Government or Government supply chains regarding Randox and its day to day business.
4.6 My only involvement with Ministers/public officials in connection with Randox is as set out below. This is in relation to two issues, which I and other witnesses testify did not breach the rules on paid advocacy.
4.7 In 2015, after I was approached by Randox, I contacted the Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which is the relevant body for former Ministers who are considering taking a business appointment. Detailed written advice was given to me, which I followed when accepting the appointment.
Lynn’s Country Food (“Lynn’s”)
4.8 In December 2016 I became a consultant to Lynn’s and I followed the same advice from ACOBA.
4.9 Jago Pearson in his witness statement sets out the role I have within Lynn’s.
4.10 Lynn’s is a Northern Ireland company that has developed nitrite-free meat products. It is a rapidly growing business. I provide advice and assistance on commercial issues.
4.11 I do not engage with public officials on behalf of Lynn’s save in the one instance referred to in this statement. Then my evidence and that of the other witnesses is that I did not breach the rules on paid advocacy.
4.12 My consultancies have been properly declared to ACOBA and in the Register of Members Interests. I have complied with all disclosure obligations.
4.13 The Commissioner states at paragraph 7 that she is surprised I do not hold written contracts for these consultancies. The Commissioner says, “I would have expected Mr Paterson to have a written contract for these roles…” I have never been asked to obtain a written contract. Had I been asked I would have obtained one. ACOBA did not make any such request and nor did the Registrar.
4.14 In my 15 or so years in international business prior to entering Parliament I shipped goods worth considerable sums without contracts. I operated in a world where your word is your bond and relationships are built on trust. I did not see the need for a contract. I received payment for my services and if any employer wished to end my agreement then they would have the ability to do so immediately, without having to give notice under a contract. I believe relationships based in trust are better and stronger.
4.15 I have fully complied with the Rules and yet I am subject to criticism by the Commissioner regarding the lack of a written contract, which is not required by the Rules. I am concerned this shows a willingness to find fault where there is none and discloses bias against me. So far as I am aware the absence of a written contract is not the subject of this investigation. If it was, I would have filed evidence rejecting this criticism.
5 Overview of the Investigation
5.1 I was accused by The Guardian on 30 September 2019, of undertaking paid lobbying, which I flatly deny. The Commissioner wrote to me on 30 October 2019, a few days before Parliament was dissolved, before the election on 12 December 2019, to advise that an investigation was being commenced and at the same time that it would be suspended whilst Parliament was dissolved.
5.2 I replied in detail to the Commissioner on 16 January 2020 (circa 40 pages). I offered to meet the Commissioner.
5.3 The Commissioner then wrote to me on several further occasions with additional questions in what was an ever-expanding inquiry. I answered all the Commissioner’s questions. The Commissioner did not respond to the answers I gave and expanded the issues under investigation way beyond the original accusations.
5.4 The Commissioner has stated that this is an inquisitorial process and that the scope and work undertaken are entirely matters for her and not for disclosure to or discussion with me. I was left in the dark for long periods. There is no formal process and no right of redress.
5.5 As stated above, I have asked on several occasions that the Commissioner advise me as to the source of documents, to ensure all evidence in the investigation was being disclosed to the Commissioner.
5.6 On 1 December 2020, after 14 months of investigation, the Commissioner sent me her draft memorandum, without having spoken to me or any other witness. I was shocked by the content.
5.7 The Commissioner made findings of fact based predominately on internal and anonymous FSA emails, which had not been disclosed to me at the time. The Commissioner had made no attempt, that I am aware of, to find out who the author of these emails was and establish what knowledge that person had of the matters referred to in the emails. For example, in one case the anonymous author was commenting on a meeting that took place 2 years before. The author may not have been at that meeting and the evidence may be pure supposition. We don’t know the evidential quality as no investigation has been undertaken into this key issue.
5.8 I was also then aware for the first time that the Commissioner had not spoken to any witnesses at all. I was very concerned by this, as some 14 months had elapsed. I had provided much detail to the Commissioner but no investigation had been undertaken. I and my family had been put under immense strain, [redacted]. I honestly wondered what the Commissioner had been doing for 14 months.
5.9 I therefore provided the Commissioner early in 2021 with evidence from 17 witnesses, in the form of statements under a perjury declaration and in some cases emails. This evidence proves that I have not breached the Rules.
5.10 The Commissioner asked for the witnesses’ contact details, so the Commissioner could contact them. I promptly provided these. The Commissioner has not contacted any of the witnesses. I do not know why I was asked to give contact details and then no attempt has been made to contact the witnesses.
5.11 On 11 June 2021 I received a second draft memorandum. I responded in detail to that by letter dated 2 July 2021, which I invite the Committee to read. The final memorandum is similar to the second and contains conclusions formed when drafting the first memorandum, which was settled before any proper investigation was undertaken. This is a deeply flawed and unacceptable process; it does not meet the basic requirements of fairness, thoroughness, objectivity and natural justice.
6 Lack of Natural Justice and a Fair Investigation
6.1 The Commissioner is required to undertake her work in accordance with natural justice. This requires a fair and objective (not subjective) process to be undertaken.
6.2 I am deeply critical of the process undertaken by the Commissioner, as set out in this statement. There has been no proper investigation of my conduct by the Commissioner, which is at the heart of this matter.
6.3 I summarise my objections to the process adopted by the Commissioner as follows:
6.3.1 Failing to interview me before the Commissioner made her initial findings of fact in the first draft memorandum;
6.3.2 Failing to accept my evidence without due cause;
6.3.3 Failing to interview witnesses at any stage of the investigation even after requesting and receiving their contact details;
6.3.4 Failing to follow the ‘unchallenged witness evidence’, and/or wrongly dismissing such evidence as irrelevant;
6.3.5 Taking an inconsistent approach to similar fact matters i.e., ham and milk both contaminated with a concealed, prohibited, carcinogenic matter - in milk it is accepted this is a serious wrong and in ham it is held it is not. They are both the same and yet different findings are made. This shows a deeply flawed process.
6.3.6 Failing to apply a fair and objective process in considering and weighing up the evidence;
6.3.7 Reaching conclusions which are not supported by the evidence;
6.3.8 Giving unfair weight to the content of anonymous internal FSA emails;
6.3.9 Creating ‘evidence’ via the Registrar who is not a witness to a matter under investigation;
6.3.10 Applying an incorrect test to the Rules;
6.3.11 Criticising me for not having a written consultancy contract when that is not required by the rules and wasn’t requested by ACOBA or the Registrar.
6.4 I will address two of these topics in greater detail.
Failing to Interview me until February 2020 and any witness at any time
6.5 It is impossible to conduct a fair investigation into disputed issues of fact without interviewing the person subject to the investigation and the witness to the matters under investigation. These interviews should be a priority and done at an early stage, whilst memories are fresh and before any findings of fact are made. This is a basic requirement of any investigation.
6.6 The Commissioner has been aware since receipt of my first detailed reply dated 16 January 2020 that the issues of fact alleged by The Guardian are disputed by me.
6.7 The Commissioner first determined I had breached the Rules of Conduct and made findings of fact against me, before speaking to me, or engaging in any way with the witnesses to my conduct. Since then the Commissioner has largely kept to her initial findings irrespective of the evidence that I have provided to show that they are not correct.
6.8 The allegations made by The Guardian relate to my conduct at and around certain meetings. In order to form a view as to whether or not rules were breached it is necessary to speak to some or all of those present. It is clearly not a fair process to reach conclusions as to my conduct without doing so. It is obviously unfair to reach conclusions that are then contrary to the unchallenged witness evidence of persons present at the relevant meetings and this is what the Commissioner has done.
6.9 The Commissioner says she is concerned with my conduct, not others. This is said in response to the challenge that witnesses have not been interviewed. My conduct cannot be judged without speaking to me and the witnesses, being the persons with whom I engaged in the matters under investigation. To undertake a fair process these interviews should take place before any findings of fact, provisional or otherwise, are made.
6.10 In my first letter to the Commissioner dated 16 January 2020 I offered a meeting. The Commissioner did not take up this offer until after she had issued the first draft memorandum on 1 December 2020 and I had provided my detailed response including witness evidence. The meeting took place 13 months after it was offered by me. By this time the Commissioner had already formed the view I had breached the Rules and had made findings of fact which she has largely stuck to, despite receiving considerable witness evidence which proves that these findings are not correct.
Unchallenged Witness Evidence
6.11 It is a long-standing rule of the common law, that unchallenged witness evidence is to be followed. The Commissioner states that this is a rule applied in the courts, in adversarial litigation and so it does not apply to the Commissioner’s work.
6.12 This is an extraordinary statement to make. The courts apply the common law which embodies natural justice. A failure to accept unchallenged witness evidence is a clear breach of natural justice, whether the investigation is inquisitorial or adversarial.
6.13 The Commissioner by her statement and her actions demonstrates a willingness to make findings of fact contrary to the evidence. Where the evidence contradicts the Commissioner’s position, it is disregarded and that is not fair or acceptable.
6.14 Where the Commissioner does not accept a witness’s evidence, then in order to undertake a fair investigation, the Commissioner is required by natural justice to put to the witness the matters that cause her not to accept the evidence. The Commissioner should put her challenges and then objectively consider the responses and decide whether or not the objections stand up. This analysis should be in the report.
6.15 It may help if I give an example by reference to this matter. I am accused and found by the Commissioner to have undertaken paid advocacy in a meeting with The Right Honourable Rory Stewart MP. What is remarkable in this finding is that Rory Stewart provided evidence which I sent on to the Commissioner, in which he stated that I did not undertake paid advocacy. That is rejected without challenge or explanation.
6.16 So in making this finding the Commissioner has ignored my evidence, Priti Patel’s and Rory Stewart’s. There is no other witness evidence. The Commissioner has failed to accept, without any reason, unchallenged witness evidence which is the best evidence as to what happened during the meeting. That is demonstrably unfair and contrary to natural justice.
6.17 Further the Commissioner does not accept my evidence on key issues but has not put to me or explained in her report the reasons why my evidence is rejected. I have been a Member of Parliament for 24 years and a Cabinet Minister. Before that I was in international business. I have never been accused of lying. So I am entitled to know on what basis my evidence is being rejected.
6.18 In a fair and objective process, the Commissioner must take into account my background and the corroborative evidence before deciding to reject my account and that has not been done.
ACAS and Fairness
6.19 I provided the Commissioner with the ACAS Code of Practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures as to how a conduct investigation is to be undertaken. I am advised that these are standard requirements in any investigation and if not met in the workplace, such investigations are set aside in the Courts. In this matter the Commissioner has not met these standards, but I am prevented by Parliamentary Privilege from making any challenge to the Commissioner’s work. It cannot be the position that the ordinary standards of a fair investigation that apply nationally, do not apply to the Commissioner.
7 The Rules
7.1 There are two key Rules in this matter.
7.2 The Code of Conduct paragraph 6 states: “Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.” This is an express duty and requires Members to act in these interests.
7.3 This links to Chapter 3 of the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members (17 March 2015 edition) dealing with lobbying and paragraph 9 which states:
7.4 “Exceptionally, a Member may approach the responsible Minister or public official with evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice even if the resolution of any such wrong or injustice would have the incidental effect of conferring a financial or material benefits on an identifiable person from whom or an identifiable organisation from which the Member, or a member of his or her family, has received, is receiving or expect to receive, outside reward or consideration (or on a registrable client of that person or organisation).” (My emphasis).
7.5 The Rules on paid advocacy set out in paragraph 11 of the Code of Practice, and Rule 8 of the Guide to the Rules, relate to when a Member may and may not approach a Government Minister or public official. A key factor in this matter, which the Commissioner disregards, is that where a public official approaches the Member then that is not within the paid advocacy rules. This is what happened in relation to the FSA enquiries relating to Prosur which I explain below. This is confirmed in evidence by several witnesses and this evidence is ignored by the Commissioner.
7.6 Further, as set out above where there is evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice then the Member may approach the responsible Minister or public official. The Commissioner wrongly implies this means one approach only and there cannot be any follow up. Whereas the rule refers to the “resolution” of the wrong or injustice and resolution can be an interactive process.
7.7 Attending a meeting and then sending a confirmatory email is one course of dealing not two. Raising an issue and then following up to ensure it is resolved is one course of dealing – it is a single “approach”.
7.8 The Commissioner treats each communication, email and meeting as a separate approach. Each one is considered in isolation; this is an artificial device. This is not how communications work. There is in each case a series of emails and a meeting or meetings, which are interrelated and all are part of one approach. Each one is not separate and distinct from the others and the Commissioner’s analysis is artificial and not reflective of modern communications. A summary, however detailed, at the end of a meeting is clearly and obviously part and parcel of that meeting, or that “approach” but (according to the Commissioner) a follow-up email or letter after the meeting, with the same or similar content, is a new approach. If this was the intention it would have been expressly set out in the Guide to the Rules.
7.9 Further, in the Memorandum by way of example at paragraph 205, there is reference to referring to a matter being a serious wrong or substantial injustice at the time it is raised. The suggestion being I should have said this is a serious wrong when raising the matter. There is however no requirement in the Rules to do this. A matter is a serious wrong or substantial injustice or it is not. Referring to a matter as a serious wrong does not make it a serious wrong. It is a question of fact, to be decided in each case. There is no requirement to label a matter as a serious wrong or a substantial injustice when raising an issue and to do so would serve no purpose.
8 The Test applied by the Commissioner
8.1 The Commissioner sets out her test for deciding if I have observed the rules on paid advocacy at paragraph 20. The test applied by the Commissioner is not in accordance with the Rule (as set out above). The correct test is:
8.1.1 Did I initiate the approach? If not, then it falls outside the rules relating to paid advocacy. The approach must be initiated by the Member to be within the exclusion on paid advocacy.
8.1.2 Where I initiated an approach, then if I did so with evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice, then that is not paid advocacy and is permitted.
8.2 The Commissioner adds a test namely was it an approach which sought to confer, or would have the effect of conferring, any financial or material benefit on either Randox or Lynn’s. This is not a correct analysis. The Rule is clear, that where the approach is made with evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice, then even if the resolution would have the incidental effect of conferring a financial or material benefit, that is not a factor to take into account.
8.3 Intention is not relevant. What matters is whether or not there is a serious wrong or harm.
8.4 Incidental clearly means a benefit which flows from the resolution of the serious wrong or substantial injustice. So it is a benefit that arises as a consequence of the resolution and is incidental to the resolution. The fact there is a serious wrong and its resolution is what matters. If there is a financial consequence that is irrelevant.
8.5 I add, lest there be any doubt, that in the matters in this investigation there has been no financial or other material benefit to either myself or either of the two companies for which I am a consultant. The benefit is to the general public, to whom I owe a duty as a Member of Parliament.
8.6 The Commissioner sets out her paragraph 9 test at paragraph 21 as follows:
8.6.1 Whether my behaviour indicated my purpose to provide evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice.
8.6.2 Whether I limited my actions to providing evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice.
8.6.3 Whether my actions would make any benefit that was other than incidental.
8.7 Again these tests misapply the Rule, as follows:
8.7.1 The rule states that a Member can make a relevant approach with evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice. The Commissioner seeks to change this to apply a test as to whether or not my behaviour indicated my purpose was to provide evidence. This is wholly subjective, could only be determined by an investigation (which has not been undertaken) and is not what the Rule requires. The Rule enables a Member to make a relevant approach with evidence of a serious wrong or substantial injustice and that is all that is required, sensibly as that is an objective standard that can be policed.
8.7.2 The Commissioner could not determine my behaviour without speaking to me and those who I engaged with in making disclosures. Not that this is the test, but if the Commissioner takes the view this is relevant then I do not see how this can be determined without investigating “my behaviour” i.e, speaking to witnesses as to my motivation.
8.7.3 I would add that the witnesses confirm my motivations were genuine.
8.7.4 The Commissioner states my actions must be limited to providing evidence. The Rule does not state this. It enables an approach to be made “with evidence”, not limited to the provision of evidence. Any approach will include more than just the evidence for example:
(a) Context will need to be given so the importance and accuracy of the evidence can be known;
(b) The Member may be well placed to assist on resolution, using expertise in this regard;
(c) It matters that the disclosure is acted upon, it would be ridiculous if the Member could not follow up to make sure the issue was being or had been effectively addressed. This is what I did with milk for example.
8.8 I submit that the Rule is clear. Where there is a serious wrong or substantial injustice then any Member can approach the responsible Minister or public official. That approach should include (but is not limited to) evidence of the serious wrong or substantial injustice. If there is a financial or material benefit in the resolution of the issue then that is incidental.
9 The Sale of Contaminated Milk
9.1 In November 2016 I was told by Randox that random sampling tests at the point of sale in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland revealed that 12.5% of milk was contaminated with florfenicol, which is a banned anti-microbial residue. Government statistics were that 0.01% of milk may be contaminated.
9.2 AMR (anti-microbial resistance) is a massively serious health issue. It is predicted to be a major cause of death worldwide by 2050. The presence of an anti-microbial residue promotes AMR.
9.3 This disclosure was shocking. Randox knew that this information had to be disclosed to the authorities and that unless this was done carefully and in a controlled way, then the dairy industry could be devastated. As a former DEFRA Secretary of State I was asked to help only because this was so sensitive.
9.4 My sole motivation was to protect consumers and the dairy industry. My constituency is a large dairy area and major employers are Müller and Arla. I remember being most concerned that just as egg farmers went out of business due to salmonella, the same would happen to dairy farmers.
9.5 The dairy farming industry is a major exporter. British milk is recognised as safe and its derivative products are sold worldwide. Powdered milk is exported to China and in China there had been a huge scandal regarding contaminated baby milk.
9.6 This information could not have been more important. What would parents think and do if there was the risk of giving children milk with a contaminated carcinogenic residue? The Commissioner rightly accepts this was a serious wrong.
9.7 So I set up a meeting with the FSA to ensure that this serious wrong was properly disclosed and remedied. I knew the Chair and Deputy Chair through my various previous roles. It was not remedied, in that a year later, tests of milk were still picking up prohibited substances. I therefore set up the Milk Quality Forum with the Chief Veterinary Officer, the National Milk Laboratory, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, and me to improve milk safety. This has been achieved but there is more work to be done.
9.8 Through my work, milk is now routinely tested for florfenicol and flukicides, which was not previously done. These are both harmful substances that should not be in milk at all but were and were not being tested for.
9.9 It is important to note that the FSA is the responsible body for food safety, but it does not undertake tests. Milk is routinely tested by the National Milk Laboratory which is a private company owned by dairy farmers. The National Milk Laboratory at all times had Randox testing machines.
9.10 As a matter of fact there was no benefit to Randox. The FSA don’t issue contracts for testing and the National Milk Laboratory already had Randox equipment. This was only about making milk safe and that is why I set up the Milk Quality Forum. Randox is not invited to MQF meetings and has no role within it.
9.11 I refer the Committee to the witness evidence and in particular on this issue:
9.11.1 Tim Bennett
Mr Bennett was the Chair of the Food Standards Agency between July 2013 and March 2016 and Deputy Chair of the FSA until March 2017 and states the following (paragraphs 3 to 14 of his statement):
I was first contacted by Owen Paterson in respect of the issue of contaminants in milk in early November 2016. Mr Paterson requested a meeting to share with the FSA, as the regulator for food standards, test results from point of sale milk which caused him serious concern.
At all times Mr Paterson explained that the tests had been undertaken by Randox and he is retained as a consultant by Randox. I know of Mr Paterson’s interest in food safety and production and the dairy industry and his expertise in these areas.
Due to the potential severity of this issue, both myself and Ms Heather Hancock, the Chair of the FSA, then met with Mr Paterson accompanied by Professor Guy Poppy, who was at the time, the Chief Scientific Advisor at the FSA.
At the meeting, we discussed Randox’s findings and the concerns in respect of Florfenicol found in milk. Randox were present at this meeting only to explain their tests and findings. I recall being aware that Randox’s tests were new and not accredited. Therefore further accredited tests by the agency or other government agencies would be required to verify the findings before taking action.
I understand it has been suggested that this meeting may have been a forum to promote Randox. Any such suggestion is quite wrong. This meeting was set up solely to disclose to the FSA, as the appropriate body, the test results. The Chair and Deputy Chair of the FSA would not have attended a commercial meeting and we would play no part in any procurement process. Further, the Chief Scientific Advisor attended as this was a meeting solely about the test results.
I cannot recall any discussion about purchasing testing equipment.
As a regulatory body, it is of utmost importance that the FSA is apprised of intelligence such as this. In my experience, it did not matter who was presenting the intelligence, whether this was a consumer or an MP, providing there was good evidence this would be inputted into the system in the same way to ensure the appropriate action was taken.
If anyone believes there is a problem in the food industry, the FSA should always be the first point of contact. Once the FSA had this information, the appropriate organisation could be informed, whether this was the VMD or otherwise. The FSA were responsible for dairy farm inspections and so the FSA was the correct body to raise concerns relating to possible contaminants in dairy products.
Within the last 10–15 years, testing technology has developed quite rapidly and often the latest tests are more sensitive. These new tests have made the food supply much safer. The food science industry is often therefore at the forefront of food safety and it is vital that the regulatory bodies, such as the FSA, are kept informed about any potential technological advances.
Mr Paterson had a strong background in both dairy, through his rural constituency, and biosciences, through his Defra position. His intelligence was therefore highly respected. We welcomed him bringing this information to our attention.
I am aware that Mr Paterson subsequently raised these issues within the industry, through his Milk Quality Forum. It is by actions such as these that food safety is improved.
9.11.2 Professor Christopher Elliott
Professor Elliott is a world authority on food safety. He led the UK Government’s response to the horse meat scandal. He has no connection to Randox. He has given the following evidence under a perjury declaration relating to Antibiotic Residues in Milk (paragraphs 23 to 25 of his statement):
I was not involved in issues relating to the contamination of milk but I am aware that Florfenicol was found in milk at point of sale in supermarkets in various EU countries including the UK. Florfenicol is a prohibited substance in milk and poultry. It is not permitted in any quantity.
The reason it is prohibited is that the United Nation’s FAO concluded that this class of compounds is genotoxic, which means it could cause genetic damages and possibly lead to cancer.
Therefore, the finding of Florfenicol in milk may potentially be a most serious harm. It should not be there at all. It is prohibited for good reason.
9.11.3 Ben Bartlett
Mr Bartlett is a director of the National Milk Laboratory (NML) which tests 100,000 milk samples every month for contaminants. He has made a statement under a perjury declaration, in which he states that NML already had Randox equipment and that the FSA is the body responsible for the statutory obligation to test milk and NML undertakes the tests and reports to the FSA. In respect of the meetings issue of contaminated milk he states as follows (at paragraphs 10 to 14 of his Statement):
By this time Owen Paterson had met with the FSA and we were involved in liaison with the Chief Vet, Christine Middlemiss, and looking into the findings made by Randox and considering how we could improve the safe standards of milk. In July 2019 I attended, by telephone, a meeting to discuss these important issues. Also at this meeting was Mr Paterson, the Chief Vet, the Vet Director of the FSA and other interested parties. Mr Paterson made it clear that he had three interests in this issue: (i) as the MP for North Shropshire, a rural constituency with a huge dairy industry; (ii) as the Former Defra Secretary; and (iii) as a paid consultant for Randox, who provided some of the test kits which had identified this issue. It was apparent to me during these meetings that Mr Paterson’s primary concern however was milk contamination and the impact this could have on the dairy industry. I attach Ms Middlemiss’ note from the meeting, which notes that Mr Paterson had expressly declared his interest in Randox.
Due to Owen Paterson’s intervention in this matter and his establishment of the milk quality forum, better processes have been put in place to minimise the risks of contaminants such as flukicides entering the food chain. Key to this has been raising the awareness of the issue amongst relevant stakeholder organisations (such as the FSA, DEFRA and the VMD). We are also now seeing more comprehensive surveillance programmes becoming established that supplement the surveillance provided by statutory programmes.
In all my meetings with Mr Paterson at all times he identified himself as a consultant to Randox. I of course knew that he was also the MP representing North Shropshire, a rural constituency with significant dairy farming interests, and the former Defra Secretary. This is also noted within Ms Middlemiss’ note.
At no time did Mr Paterson seek to persuade me or anyone else to purchase any products from Randox.
As I have said, the National Milk Laboratories already had two Randox machines and we still have those same two machines. We have not acquired any additional equipment or technology from Randox but we have seen progress in the development of surveillance programmes for contaminants as a result of Mr Paterson’s intervention for which we are grateful.
9.11.4 The Chief Vet – Professor Christine Middlemiss
Professor Middlemiss confirms under a perjury declaration as follows (paragraphs 2 to 13 of her Statement):
I was first contacted through my office by Owen Paterson in respect of a milk contamination issue in May 2019. Mr Paterson informed me that a company with whom he had a consultancy, Randox, had carried out around 100 random sample “off the shelf” tests of milk which had discovered contaminants which should not have been present in milk.
Dairy UK undertake non-statutory testing as commercial due diligence, however due to the unknown risk of this issue, I agreed to meet with Mr Paterson and Dr Kath Webster, the Director of Scientific Services, APHA. Dr Kath Webster was the previous Head of Biotechnology and Manager of the Test Development Programme at APHA.
This meeting took place on 22 May 2019 in Mr Paterson’s office. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the testing which had resulted in these contaminants being identified. I wanted to understand the validity of the testing, the sampling methods and what the impact of these findings could be to public health and the food industry. We needed to establish whether there was a statutory significance to the findings and whether there was a safety issue. This was in effect a risk assessment.
Following this meeting, we held a follow up meeting on 16 July 2019, to which a number of people with key responsibilities within the milk industry were invited. This included myself, Dr Kath Webster for the APHA, Eric Crutcher for the VMD, Jane Clark from the FSA and Ben Bartlett and Eamon Watson from the NML.
The purpose of this second meeting was to further investigate the contamination issue with those with knowledge of the potential issue and to determine the necessary next steps. During this meeting, Ben Bartlett and Eamon Watson of the NML gave a presentation entitled “Surveillance for Contaminants – what are we finding?” which analysed the prevalence of the issue, the validity of the testing, how accurate the testing was and how concerning these findings were. Because the Randox testing was not accredited, it was necessary for NML to carry out further testing to determine whether the issue was as presented within the Randox tests. I attach my minute of this meeting.
Following this meeting, we determined that there were no significant statutory or safety concerns related to the contamination of milk but that there was much more that could be done within the industry in terms of stewardship and communication relating to use of certain drugs in cattle, particularly Flukicides and certain anti-biotics. We agreed worthwhile improvements for the long term as a result of this intelligence being raised by Mr Paterson in this manner. This group continued to meet to discuss these issues and we referred to ourselves as “the Milk Quality Forum”.
The focus of this group is on how better to improve testing and safety within the dairy industry. It is not about whether there was a need for more testing, it is about how we can reduce the contaminants which had been detected. Whilst I am aware that Mr Paterson is a consultant to Randox, as he declares this at each meeting, at no point have I felt that these meetings have been used in any way as a sales pitch for Randox.
A further Milk Quality Forum meeting was held in October 2019, which was attended by the same individuals (albeit that due to transport issues Ben, Eamon and Jane attended via telephone), and another meeting had been planned for May 2020, however due to Covid this had to be postponed. I found these meetings very helpful and hope they are able to continue in the future.
At each of these meetings, Mr Paterson would make reference to the fact he was sat on a “three legged milking stool”: (1) as the MP for a rural constituency which is home to Müller, one of the largest dairy suppliers in the UK; (2) as the former Secretary of State for Defra; and (3) as a paid consult for Randox. I remember he would make these declarations at the start of each meeting.
At no point were commercial issues discussed at these meetings and there were no requests for further Randox testing. These meetings were entirely proper and focussed on how to improve food safety in dairy products.
A key part of my role as CVO is to make sure intelligence is received by the correct people within the organisation and passed on to those with the power to act upon it. I had previously dealt with Mr Paterson when he was the Secretary of State for Defra and he had set up Monthly Biosecurity Meetings to discuss and detect potential issues in biosecurity and ensure they were acted on before they became critical. After the foot and mouth outbreak, Professor Anderson said risks must be analysed on a regular basis and Mr Paterson’s Biosecurity Meetings provided a Ministerial forum for this. As such I was aware of Mr Paterson’s extra sensitivity to detection of unmanaged risks. With this background, it made complete sense for Mr Paterson to be raising this contamination issue and I felt compelled to investigate this fully.
I welcome intelligence such as this being brought to my office. The intelligence Mr Paterson had indicated that there may have been a serious issue which I needed to be aware of. As CVO, I must have access to new information and those with specialist knowledge must not be deterred from bringing new intelligence forward.
9.11.5 Eamon Watson
Mr Watson is a Veterinary Advisor of National Milk Laboratories and a registered Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons offering technical support to the milk quality and disease testing services. Previously he had worked at the former Veterinary Laboratories Agency (now known as the Animal and Plant Health Agency) as a Veterinary Investigation Officer providing expertise on laboratory diagnostics, disease investigation, national surveillance programs, epidemiology, and research. He gave the following statement accompanied by a statement of truth (paragraphs 2–11):
Following the introduction of Randox testing (IPM I) to the laboratory in 2017, NML became aware of the detection of both florfenicol (an antibiotic compound) and nitroxynil (a flukicide compound) residues in raw ex-farm milk samples.
Both of these compounds may be harmful to human health.
Florfenicol is not authorised for use in in animals producing milk for human consumption including pregnant animals intended to produce milk for human consumption. I attach a summary report from the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products which discusses the toxicity of florfenicol.
Nitroxynil is not authorised for use in cattle and sheep producing milk for human consumption including the dry (non-lactating) period and should not be used in the last trimester of pregnancy of heifers (primiparous) which are intended to produce milk for human consumption.
I was invited to attend meetings of the ‘Milk Quality Forum’ consisting of Christine Middlemiss (the Chief Veterinary Officer), representatives from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, NML and Owen Paterson.
The first of these was by conference call (16/07/2019) and subsequently in person (16/10/2019) and again by conference call (28/01/2020). At each meeting Mr Paterson made it clear that he was there wearing three hats:
(1) as the MP for North Shropshire a rural constituency and home to a Muller processing site; (2) as the Former Defra Secretary; and (3) as a paid consultant for Randox, who provided some of the test kits which had identified this issue. In this context I understood the interests Mr Paterson held - I did not feel that any one of them was over-represented and that the primary concern was safeguarding milk supply.
The Milk Quality Forum provided a welcome opportunity to share our results and observations on veterinary medicine residues, including antibiotics and flukicides, in milk and to raise our concerns with key parties in a safe forum. We were aware of the potential issue identified and we were also mindful of the potential damage this issue could do to the dairy industry.
Subsequent to these meetings, and alongside other industry initiatives, there has been an increased awareness on the risk of residues of veterinary medicines, including flukicides, and the need to ensure these do not enter the human food chain. I attach the joint statement from the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) and the VMD on the use of Flukicides in dairy cattle.
Surveillance and testing programs can provide a level of assurance for product quality and I would welcome further transparency of testing for veterinary medicine residues in the coming years.
Response to the Commissioner
9.12 The Commissioner now agrees that I was reporting a serious wrong.
9.13 The Commissioner essentially finds that I should have notified the FSA and then taken no further action. This would have been a dereliction of duty on my part. I have a duty to act in the best interests of my constituents and the general public and that is what I did.
9.14 I followed up with the FSA after my first meeting as I always do. I am found not to have disclosed my interest but that is incorrect. As Tim Bennett confirms, I had disclosed my interest in the meeting and I was now writing to those present at the meeting. The disclosure of my interest had taken place.
9.15 A year later I became aware that whilst Florfenicol was being tested for, other contaminants were being found and so I followed this up as is my duty.
9.16 I then established the MQF to better improve milk safety and Professor Middlemiss, Tim Bennett and Ben Bartlett each confirm that I have improved milk safety. All the witnesses confirm that I disclosed my interest as a consultant. No witness states, or even suggests, that I was engaged in advocacy or lobbying for Randox, paid or otherwise.
Applying the Test
9.17 I approached the FSA with evidence of a serious wrong, namely that milk was contaminated with a banned carcinogenic anti-microbial residue.
9.18 I disclosed my interest.
9.19 I followed up my report to ensure that milk safety was improved and as other contaminants had been found.
9.20 I set up the Milk Quality Forum.
9.21 There was and could be no benefit to Randox and no intention to benefit Randox (if this is relevant). For example, Randox were not invited to the Milk Quality Forum.
9.22 The Commissioner finds I breached the Rules in the following emails:
9.22.1 My email to FSA dated 16 November 2016.
(a) This email was following up by confirming the matters we had discussed.
(b) I am criticised for the email referring to mycotoxins. This had been raised by the Chief Scientific advisors to the FSA Professor Guy Poppy, although the Commissioner redacts his name and job description, so his importance isn’t clear. Where an official raises a matter, that is outside the rules on paid advocacy. I was merely responding to a matter raised with me by Professor Poppy.
9.22.2 Meeting and Email 15 November 2017
(a) This meeting took place because illegal substances were still being detected in milk as my email references. This is no different to my first disclosure. The presence of illegal substances is a serious wrong.
9.23 The Commissioner accepts that the presence of illegal substances in milk is a serious wrong and that applies equally in November 2016 and November 2017 as that had not been remedied, or to use the words of the exception, there had not been a “resolution” of the wrong.
9.24 My sole motivation was milk safety as the witnesses testify. Their evidence must be accepted.
9.25 As a matter of fact Randox did not benefit financially or in any other way.
10 Contaminated Ham
10.1 Kerry Foods is a substantial international business based in Kerry in the Republic of Ireland. It produces dairy and meat products, including ham. Kerry Foods brought to the market in Ireland an “All Naturally Cured” ham, aimed at young families.
10.2 Processed meat is traditionally cured with nitrite. Nitrite is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as a cause of colorectal cancer, which kills 16,000 in the UK every year. This is a major health issue.
10.3 Nitrite comes in a variety of forms. One form is to extract it from vegetables such as celery. This makes the nitrite more dangerous and so this is banned under European law which applies to the UK.
10.4 Kerry Foods “All Naturally Cured” ham was not naturally cured at all. The curing agent was nitrite extracted from celery. This is a banned carcinogenic substance.
10.5 I am a consultant to Lynn’s. Lynn’s produces meat products, particularly bacon, which are cured with lemon juice and so are nitrite free. Lynn’s saw the ham product and tested it out of commercial interest and discovered the nitrite. This was reported by Lynn’s and Professor Elliott to the FSA in Northern Ireland who then took no action. Challenging a major food producer in the Republic can be difficult in Northern Ireland for obvious political reasons, particularly at the time when Brexit was being negotiated.
10.6 This was drawn to my attention and as nothing was being done to stop a carcinogenic food being sold I followed this up with the FSA in London. I did not initiate this contact but I did provide the evidence that led to the product being made safe. This is the same as contaminated milk, it is a serious wrong to be selling a product with a concealed, prohibited carcinogenic curing agent.
10.7 The Commissioner has wrongly described this as a labelling issue. It has nothing to do with labelling. It is rather like rice containing arsenic and complaining the arsenic is not on the label. It is not the label that is the issue but the content.
10.8 When the FSA was involved they became very defensive and frankly aggressive. Our meeting with the FSA was very difficult and we had to take time out for everyone to calm down.
10.9 However, ultimately, the FSA did two things:
10.9.1 The issue was taken forward and Kerry Foods removed the carcinogenic banned curing agent.
10.9.2 A challenge was made to Lynn’s bacon product by the FSA. The FSA incorrectly assumed that Lynn’s must be using the same curing agent as Kerry Foods, as both were branded natural. In fact, Lynn’s use natural juice.
10.10 This later issue has not been dealt with correctly by the Commissioner. It was the FSA who raised this issue with me and so there can be no issue of paid advocacy or lobbying. All I did was to help facilitate a resolution.
10.11 I refer the Committee to the witness evidence and in particular on this issue:
10.11.1 Professor Christopher Elliott
Professor Elliott gives evidence under a perjury declaration as follows (paragraphs 12 to 21 of his Statement):
In or about 2015 I was contacted by the owner of Lynn’s Country Foods, Denis Lynn. I had a number of conversations with Denis over the years on this topic. He told me that he wanted to find a way to process bacon without nitrite addition. I was extremely sceptical of there being an alternative as bacon has been cured in this way for hundreds of years.
In 2016 Denis Lynn came to me with a natural product for curing bacon and meats that did not contain nitrite. This was produced by a Spanish company called Prosur. I investigated this product and advised Denis to have extensive testing undertaken. The data generated showed that it did not contain nitrite or vegetable extract including nitrite and it prevented botulism. It was, in my opinion, a much safer means of preserving meat compared with nitrites. I believed this to be a major innovative breakthrough in tackling colorectal cancer.
In 2017, I became aware through Denis Lynn that Kerry Foods were marketing Denny’s Ham as a naturally cured product i.e., without nitrite. Kerry’s produced a video which included young children eating their ham, with a plate of chemicals on one side plate and then celery as ‘the natural agent’ on the other plate, with a statement that Denny’s Ham was chemical free and safe. I did not believe this to be the case. It was cured with nitrite obtained from celery and in my opinion this practice breached EU law. It was no different than if it was cured with chemicals and the ad was very misleading. In 35 years working in food safety and research this is the worst video I have ever seen for the promotion of food. I was appalled. Kerry Foods were promoting the use of a dangerous additive to children yet declaring it to be safe and natural.
Kerry Foods is the world’s largest producer of processed meats and so it is extremely serious that such a large, sophisticated company with huge sales is producing a product which it is targeting at families and young children claiming it is safe when it contains nitrite which there is substantial evidence to show is carcinogenic. Not to reveal this and seek to have the product removed would be a most serious harm.
I wrote to the FSA and expressed my deep concerns about this practice.
Owen Paterson & the FSA
I have had several meetings with Mr Paterson, who was a consultant to Lynn’s Country Foods about the issues of nitrites in processed meats. Mr Paterson’s concern was entirely focused on protecting the UK public, as a dangerous and mislabelled food was being widely sold in UK and this contained an additive banned by the EU.
The principal meeting was with the FSA on 15 January 2018. I declared my presence was as an independent scientific expert. Mr Paterson was clear that he was present in his capacity as a consultant to Lynn’s Country Foods.
I would describe this as an extremely difficult meeting. At this meeting Mr Paterson and myself wanted to address the sale of a carcinogenic product, that contained a banned additive and produced a genuine risk for consumers. I have had extensive and very positive dealings with the FSA during my career but on this occasion the FSA did not understand or appreciate the significance of the link between nitrites and colorectal cancer and that Kerry Foods ham contained nitrite and this was from a banned additive, vegetable extract. The FSA also didn’t know or accept that Lynn’s Country Foods used an entirely different curing technology that did not contain nitrite. In my opinion there was a lack of understanding on the part of the FSA.
The FSA focused on the labelling of Lynn’s Country Foods bacon, rather than seeking to remove Kerry Foods Denny’s ham from sale. This issue was eventually resolved by Lynn’s agreeing to call lemon juice, which is the natural curing agent, ascorbic acid. The FSA in my opinion did not act sufficiently robustly to protect the public as it should have done and this failure was a serious harm.
This meeting with the FSA did not relate to the sale of Lynn’s Country Foods products. Lynn’s primary concern at this meeting was promoting safe food and calling out a company supplying unsafe food.
10.11.2 Matthew Forde (Solicitor)
Mr Forde was present at the meetings with the FSA and under a perjury declaration he says the following (paragraphs 1 to 15 of his Statement):
I am a Solicitor and Director of the law firm, Forde Campbell. I am a commercial law specialist having spent 25 years advising commercial clients in manufacturing, retail, design, media & entertainment and the food industry.
My firm was instructed to represent Lynn’s Country Foods Limited (LCF) in November 2017 after they had raised a food safety and labelling concern with the FSA in relation to a Kerry Foods product, Denny All Natural Ingredient Ham. My knowledge of facts and matters set out in this statement derives from knowledge acquired during my representation of LCF.
LCF is an innovative food producing company, based in Northern Ireland, producing a range of meat products, including bacon and ham, which it makes without the use of nitrites. The traditional method of making bacon and ham products is to add nitrites during the manufacturing process to act as a curing and preserving agent. Nitrites not only inhibit the growth of bacteria but they also aid colour development, by giving the meat an artificial reddish-pink hue, which effectively masks the process of natural decay. Nitrites also lend a typical ‘cured’ flavour to the meat. However, the presence of nitrites in processed meat is known to be a contributor to cancers. This is because, when digested, nitrites create compounds in the human digestive system known as nitrosamines. Most nitrosamines are carcinogenic. The science is overwhelmingly clear that there is a link between nitrosamines and cancers and for which reason food regulations impose limits on the levels to which nitrites can be added to cured meat products. The regulations also require food producers to declare the presence of added nitrites (as additives) by printing this information on the product labels so that the consumers know what they are eating. Despite these regulatory safeguards, current scientific opinion is now increasingly of the view that these ‘limits’ are outdated and meaningless and that there are no ‘safe limits’ where the ingestion of nitrites is concerned, even at the levels permitted by the regulations. There is also a concern that some food producers are finding ways to circumvent regulations requiring nitrites to be declared as additives on labels by selectively extracting nitrites from natural food sources and using those nitrite extractions in the food production process as an alternative to adding nitrites as a pure chemical. Such methods are not permitted by the regulations.
Because of the worrying link between nitrites and cancers, LCF researched ways of producing bacon and ham products without using nitrites. The challenge was to develop products that still looked and tasted like traditionally-processed bacon and ham and yet avoided the use of nitrites to achieve those ‘traditional’ characteristics. LCF eventually found a way to do this. A key ingredient flavour used in LCF’s new process was a unique blend of natural dried fruit and spices developed by a Spanish company called Prosur. LCF’s new products using the Prosur flavour blends were first sold in the UK in late 2017, initially under supermarket own labels under their range of ‘made without nitrites’ meat products. It was not until early 2018 that LCF first began marketing these new products under its own brand in the UK.
The Denny All Natural Ingredient Ham first came to LCF’s attention in 2017 at about the same time as the LCF new ‘made without nitrites’ bacon and ham products were first appearing on supermarket shelves. LCF noticed that the
Denny Ham product made no mention on its label of the presence of nitrites despite the fact that it was being produced with nitrites selectively extracted from fermented celery. The product was being manufactured in the Republic of Ireland and was appearing in retail outlets in Northern Ireland. Given the regulatory requirement for food producers to declare the presence of nitrite additives on labelling, LCF could not understand why the FSAI and UK FSA had allowed this product to enter the UK when its label made no mention of the presence of nitrites. The concern for LCF was twofold. First, a safety concern that UK consumers would be unaware from the label that this ham product contained nitrites; and second, that if the product were allowed to remain in the UK market, it would create an obvious confusion for any consumers of processed meats who were actively seeking products produced without nitrites, such as the LCF bacon and ham products. In other words, consumers could easily make the mistake in thinking that the Kerry Foods’ product was nitrite free, when it was not. This was the issue that LCF first brought to the attention of the FSA in Northern Ireland in or about July/August 2017 and then later with the FSA in London in November 2017 and as part of that later notification it engaged the consultancy services of Owen Paterson. The FSA in Northern Ireland had already confirmed to LCF in August 2017 that use of nitrite-rich vegetable extracts, such as celery extract, to achieve a technological function in a meat product would constitute an unauthorised use of an additive and so LCF felt justified in their approach.
I was aware that LCF met with the FSA chair, Heather Hancock, at a meeting on 15 November 2017, at which Owen Paterson was also in attendance. My firm was not directly involved at this stage with any dealings with FSA (London) and we only became involved following the FSA’s written follow up to that November 2017 meeting.
It is fair to say that LCF’s dealings with the FSA on this issue did not turn out quite as they expected. Although the FSA agreed to raise the labelling issue with the FSAI, and which they subsequently did, the FSA then, unexpectedly, turned their attention to the ingredients that LCF was using in its new bacon and ham products. Given the timing and form of the FSA’s questions, it seemed fairly obvious to LCF that these had originated directly from the FSAI (as a ‘retaliatory’ response) at the behest of the producers of Denny All Natural Ham. It was at this stage that my firm was brought on board.
The main thrust of the FSA’s query was about whether or not the Prosur ingredients fell within the scope of Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives and, if so, was the labelling in compliance. Both Prosur and LCF were of the opinion that the ingredients (which were essentially dried fruit and spices - i.e. ‘foods’ by definition) fell outside the regulations because they acted primarily as flavours to the meat products rather than having any designed technological effect. As mentioned above, the ingredients were intended as a flavour to mimic the taste of traditionally made bacon and ham. LCF were treating the FSA’s questioning very seriously as there was a genuine concern at the time that the FSA might require LCF to withdraw its products from UK supermarket shelves until the labelling status of the Prosur ingredients had been resolved.
My involvement throughout this time was largely spent seeking clarity from the FSA on their interpretation of Regulation 1333/2008 and Regulation 1334/2008 (insofar as these related to flavourings and food ingredients) and submitting counter-submissions to explain why we were of the view that certain regulations did not apply to the Prosur ingredients. We also involved senior counsel in the submission exchange process. At no stage during this period was it ever clear to us where the FSA were going with their investigations. As an organisation I found them extremely difficult to deal with.
In early January 2018, our office received a notification from LCF that a formal interagency notice had been filed by the FSAI with FSA relating to the Prosur product. From recollection, it was at this time that I had my first direct dealings with Owen Paterson in relation to these matters. I was aware that Mr Paterson had been engaged as a consultant to assist LCF in its dealings with the FSA, although I was not involved in his appointment. Given his former roles as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my understanding was that he brought useful knowledge and experience and would have understood the challenges faced by NI businesses operating in the UK market and particularly the food production industry and would have been familiar with some of the regulatory regimes under which that industry operated. It was my also understanding that Mr Paterson had a good knowledge of the workings of the FSA and was able to advise LCF on how best to escalate the issue of the dangers of nitrites in processed meat products within that organisation. On this specific area, I was aware that LCF had also sought the scientific opinion of Professor Elliott (a world leading expert in the harmful effects of nitrites in cured meat). I recall that on 10 January 2018 I had been copied into an email that Mr Paterson had sent to Heather Hancock (FSA) on 8 January 2018, requesting an urgent meeting with the FSA in relation to LCF’s general concerns about nitrite levels in traditionally manufactured processed meats and separately about the enquiry into the Prosur ingredients.
The meeting was arranged for 15 January 2018, which I attended together with Mr Paterson, LCF representatives, a Prosur representative, FSA delegates and Professor Christopher Elliott. The meeting was held in Mr Paterson’s office at 1 Parliament Street. As far as I am aware, his office was chosen as a convenient location as neither my firm nor LCF had offices in London.
In my notes of this meeting, I have noted that Mr Paterson was attending in his capacity as a consultant for LCF. I recall that at the outset of the meeting all of the attendees were required to introduce themselves in turn, confirming the capacity in which they were attending. I confirmed that I was attending as a legal adviser to LCF, advising on regulatory issues. I cannot remember the exact words Mr Paterson used when he introduced himself at the beginning of the meeting but I am reasonably certain that he confirmed that he was attending in his capacity as a paid consultant for LCF and that everyone attending was aware that he was attending in this capacity and nobody took issue with this. The basis of my certainty on this issue is the fact that almost all of the attendees of the 15 January meeting attended a later meeting with the FSA on 24 May 2018. I have seen a copy document of the FSA’s notes of that later May meeting in which Mr Paterson is listed by the FSA as attending in his capacity as a consultant to LCF.
The 15 January meeting was an incredibly frustrating meeting for the LCF attendees because it became very apparent that the FSA attendees were unwilling to engage in any discussion about whether traditional bacon and ham products posed any health risks to consumers. Instead they appeared firmly of the view that the current regulatory limits for nitrites were sufficient to protect against the dangers of ingestion by humans, notwithstanding the very compelling submissions of Professor Elliott. I was taken aback by how hostile they were towards LCF and its innovative product and their refusal to engage with any suggestion that the existing regulatory regime had been fashioned to support the outdated methods used by the established meat producers. It became increasingly clear that they were unwilling to support any innovation in food production that might otherwise suggest that the current regulatory regime was outdated, even where there was a substantial and obvious public health benefit in removing known cancer causing chemicals from food products. The FSA’s sole focus during the meeting was concerned with the formulation and properties of the Prosur product and, by implication, whether LCF was in compliance with various labelling regulations.
My firm’s dealings with the FSA on these issues continued for at least another five months, culminating in a further meeting with the FSA at their offices in London, on 24 May 2018. This meeting was attended largely by the same delegates as those who attended the January meeting. Mr Paterson was also at the May meeting. Whilst I had only two meetings with the FSA about these issues (both of which Mr Paterson attended), I was in regular correspondence with the FSA during a seven-month period. Mr Paterson would typically be copied into some of that correspondence. Whilst I only met Mr Paterson on those two occasions I certainly had several telephone calls with him during that time period and would have copied him into my advices to LCF from time to time. Because it was never clear to our firm and/or LCF where the FSA were going with their investigations or the seriousness to which they were treating the issues LCF had raised about the use of nitrites in traditionally made meat products, Mr Paterson’s advices on the dealings and internal decision making processes of the FSA proved to be critical to our ability to steer LCF through this difficult period.
Mr Paterson was always transparent in the FSA dealings that I was involved with and there was never any question of the capacity he was acting in.
10.11.3 Declan Ferguson (Technical Director Lynn’s)
Mr Ferguson gives evidence under a perjury declaration as follows (paragraphs 1–22 of his Statement):
I am the Technical Director of Lynn’s Country Foods, a position which I have held since 8th December 2014. I hold a degree in Food Science from Queen’s University, Belfast and have spent twenty three years working in the food industry. I worked as a Food Technical Manager at both Marks & Spencer and Tesco for nearly fourteen of those years before moving to food manufacturing. Until November 2020, I was the Chair of the Northern Irish Branch of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and I am a member of the Safefood Knowledge Network Food Safety Expert Group. Safefood’s role is to promote awareness and knowledge of food safety and nutrition in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
I was heavily involved in the meetings and discussions with the FSA in respect of the issue with nitrites in cured meats and this statement covers the meetings and discussions that took place from the first report of this issue to the FSA in Northern Ireland. There were two separate issues between the FSA and Lynn’s:
(1) Lynn’s were extremely concerned about prohibited use of nitrites derived from vegetable extract in a Kerry’s Food product and sought to bring this to the FSA’s attention and (2) the FSA had concerns about Lynn’s own nitrite free product and instigated an investigation into this.
Processed meat was identified by the World Health Organisation as a cause of colorectal cancer in or about 2007. Further research was undertaken and then, in the last decade it has become known that it was not the processed meat itself that was the risk element but nitrite within the meat, being the traditional curing agent. There has been a growing movement to find a safer and so better alternative, as many people die of colorectal cancer. This is a serious health issue.
The IARC Working Group of the World Health Organisation now classify processed meats as a group 1 carcinogen (similar to tobacco or asbestos) after concluding that processed meat consumption can lead to the formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso-compounds and which are linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancers.
Lynn’s was one of many businesses throughout the world looking to find a way to process meats without the use of nitrites. Throughout this process, Lynn’s worked closely with Professor Chris Elliott, a leading expert in the field of nitrites in cured meats, to find and develop a new method. In 2016, Lynn’s found a potential ingredient produced by a Spanish company Prosur to help create a nitrite-free alternative to curing meats, which was widely used in Spain and France which enabled us to produce nitrite free meat products.
In 2017, when Kerry Foods produced what they were claiming to be an “all natural” product – Denny’s “all natural” Ham we were interested to understand how that was achieved. We carried out analysis on the product to examine the ingredients and curing agents used. We discovered that Denny’s “all natural” Ham contained nitrite derived from vegetable extract, more specifically celery. This is prohibited under EU regulations due to the fact it is not an approved additive. Around 42,300 people are diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer in the UK each year, of which eating processed meat cured with nitrite is a known cause.
Lynn’s were extremely concerned that this product should be allowed to be marketed as “all natural” and without nitrites, when this was not at all the case. Not only were consumers being deliberately misled as to the ingredients of the product, but consumers actively trying to seek out a nitrite free product would also be misled into buying this product. The curing agent was explicitly banned under EU regulations. We sought further advice from Professor Chris Elliott on this matter, he was equally appalled that Kerry Foods were misleading consumers in such a way.
It was solely for this reason that Lynn’s wrote to and sought engagement with the FSA in Northern Ireland from February to August 2017. The FSA informed us that whilst the use of nitrites derived from vegetable extracts to achieve a technological function in a meat product would constitute an unauthorised use of an additive, this was not an issue they could deal with directly as the manufacturing company was based in a different jurisdiction and they had asked that the enforcement authority in that region investigate the matter further. We received no further update and as far as we were concerned, no action had been taken as the Denny’s “all natural” Ham product was still available to purchase in Northern Ireland, still claiming to be “all natural” when this was not the reality. Further the product was to be sold in Great Britain and this only enhanced our concern that a dangerous product was being mis-sold.
By November 2017, Lynn’s were becoming exasperated. We knew of a product on the market which was actively breaching EU legislation and misleading consumers but we also did not know how to do anything about this. Given the serious health implications of this, Lynn’s approached Owen Paterson, as a consultant to Lynn’s with prior experience of the workings of governmental organisations and EU regulation, for advice on how this should be dealt with. Mr Paterson then contacted Heather Hancock as the Chair of the FSA about the serious harm this product was posing to consumers. He set up a meeting between Lynn’s and the FSA to discuss this point which took place on 15 November 2017.
I attended this meeting with Heather Hancock, David Self and Colin Clifford of the FSA, alongside Denis Lynn and Mr Paterson on behalf of Lynn’s. Mr Paterson stated he was a consultant to Lynn’s. This meeting was entirely focussed on the issue of the nitrite concealed within the Kerry Food product and the serious risk of harm this posed to consumers. During this meeting the FSA advised that they were working with the Irish FSA to investigate the matter. No one at that meeting, or any other meetings I attended subsequently, expressed any reservation regarding Mr Paterson being present as a consultant.
Mr Paterson always stated he was a consultant in each meeting at the outset.
Further to this meeting Lynn’s received a follow up letter from Carles Orri on 24 November 2017 which sought to confirm the position, stating, “the indirect addition of nitrates to foods via standardised nitrate rich extracts of vegetables such as spinach or celery is considered to be use of an additive rather than a food ingredient. In such cases the extract is being added for the purposes of preservation given the standardised level of nitrate. Consequently, such use would not be permitted by Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 as these extracts are not authorised as preservatives, having not met the specifications for nitrates.” This letter further confirmed that the company (Kerry Food) had agreed to reformulate and relabel the products in question. This outcome would draw the matter to a conclusion as the public would no longer be misled by this product and it would no longer contain the prohibited source of nitrite.
Following this meeting, in early January 2018, we became aware of a separate issue which had arisen. A RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) notice was made against the Prosur product which is the product which Lynn’s were using in our own nitrite free product. This notice had been filed by the FSA in Ireland with the FSA. It was being alleged that Prosur contained nitrite, which claim was false. We believe this can only have arisen as a result of a complaint made by Kerry’s Food.
It was at this stage that the FSA then changed their approach from co-operating to resolve the issues with Kerry’s Food to initiating their own attack on Lynn’s product alleging it was not correctly described.
Mr Paterson made contact with Heather Hancock of the FSA on 8 January 2018 to facilitate a meeting regarding this new issue being raised by the FSA. This was a very technical meeting about the product itself and as such Heather Hancock did not attend. This meeting took place on 15 January 2018 and in attendance were: Mr Paterson, Professor Chris Elliott (a leading scientific expert in the field of nitrites in cured meats), Juan De Dios Hernandes (CEO of Prosur), Mathew Forde (as Lynn’s legal representative), Michael Wight, Mark Willis and Laura Eden (all of the FSA), Denis Lynn (CEO of Lynn’s) and myself.
This was an incredibly frustrating meeting. The FSA had not previously proactively taken action regarding Kerry Foods but had now decided, incorrectly, that Lynn’s were also using nitrite additives to cure meats. The FSA instigated this investigation and they were seemingly only interested in this. This is evident from the follow up email of Carles Orri which was sent to me on 26 January 2018. Within this email, he set out the overriding principles of food legislation that “consumers should not be misled about the nature of food or its ingredients” and that “it is important the correct legislative frameworks are followed and food is labelled appropriately”. These are the exact reasons why Lynn’s had approached the FSA in November 2017 regarding the Kerry Food product, however we were mystified as to why these issues were now being raised in respect of our own product. I have since been provided with the FSA’s note of this meeting which confirms the FSA’s misunderstanding of our product. This meeting note also accords with my own recollection of Mr Paterson’s role in the meeting, Mr Paterson’s primary concern was that of consumer confidence in bacon products and that they were as safe as could be.
At this meeting, the FSA requested considerable further information in respect of the Prosur product, the focus of their investigation at this time. Initially I had reservations about providing this in writing due to the commercial sensitivity of this issue, however I provided a comprehensive response the questions that had been raised by the FSA by email on 22 February 2018.
Despite having answered the FSA’s questions in full, we received correspondence on 2 March 2018 which stated that the FSA were “still unclear as to the functionality of [Lynn’s] natural flavouring” product, which we consider to be the key issue.” So we then dealt with this issue which was raised by the FSA.
The discussions between Lynn’s and the FSA continued until ultimately a further technical meeting was proposed for 24 May 2018 to go through our responses. Mr Paterson had no real involvement in this discussion as it was technical, he just facilitated the discussion.
I do not recall the exact words Mr Paterson used at the beginning of each meeting but he would always say that he was a consultant acting on behalf of Lynn’s Country Food. I remember thinking this was quite an awkward way to start a meeting but Mr Paterson always said it and his status was always abundantly clear. His position as consultant is also noted in the meeting minute of 24 May 2018.
Lynn’s approach to the FSA in November 2017 was solely to expose a serious harm, namely the risk to consumers of a product that claimed to be natural but which in fact contained nitrate as a curing agent, which is carcinogenic. The additive was contrary to EU law. We needed Mr Paterson’s assistance to bring this serious harm to the attention of the FSA as the relevant body to protect UK consumers as our approach had not led to any action being taken to protect consumers.
Thereafter, from January 2018 onwards, the FSA raised totally new and unrelated issues regarding our product which we dealt with.
10.11.4 The evidence of Mr Ferguson is supported by Jago Pearson of Lynn’s.
Response to the Commissioner
10.12 The Commissioner heads this section of her report as my “contact with the FSA about food additives”. That does not correctly reference either of the two entirely separate issues and the Commissioner, despite representations and evidence deals with this matter as if it were one issue. I have explained that this is incorrect several times.
10.13 At paragraph 84 the Commissioner says that I approached the FSA because “a global food produce was acting in breach of EU law by mislabelling a product”. That is an incorrect statement. Professor Christopher Elliott describes Kerry Foods conduct as, “In 35 years working in food safety and research this is the worst video I have even seen for the promotion of food. I was appalled. Kerry Foods were promoting the use of a dangerous additive to children yet declaring it to be safe and natural”.
10.14 Kerry Foods ham contained a curing agent that was banned by law because it is carcinogenic and that is why I made complaint to the FSA. It is no different to the contaminated milk. They both contained concealed carcinogenic substances prohibited by law.
10.15 I was therefore reporting a serious wrong. This is the same as contaminated milk.
10.16 The FSA then raised the issue of Lynn’s curing agent. I did not raise this matter. The Rules are clear that where an issue is raised by a public official that is not within the paid advocacy rules. I helped resolve what was a very technical issue by putting the technical people together.
Applying the Test
10.17 I approached the FSA with evidence of a serious wrong, namely the presence of a banned, unlawful, carcinogenic curing agent in Kerry Foods ham product. The evidence was provided by Professor Elliott. It is irrelevant that Professor Elliott had previously written to the FSA in Northern Ireland as that had not been dealt with and a dangerous product continued to be sold and was about to be sold in GB.
10.18 If I am wrong in that Professor Elliott’s approach to the FSA is relevant then I did not initiate the approach. I was following up on Professor Elliott’s. My action led to the product being made safe.
10.19 There was no benefit to Lynn’s as all Kerry Food’s had to do and which they eventually did, was to remove the unlawful curing agent. They continue to sell this product but without the carcinogenic curing agent.
10.20 My sole motivation was to protect my constituents and the general public. I was able to achieve this.
10.21 The Commissioner is confused by the FSA raising an issue with me regarding Lynn’s curing agent. That is not an issue I raised so is outside the rule relating to paid advocacy. The FSA raised this as is clear from the witness evidence and the internal FSA memos which the Commissioner seeks to rely on in part.
The Commissioner’s Findings
10.22 I note that the Commissioner refers to the Registrar (see paragraph 135). The Registrar was not involved in this matter and reports to the Commissioner. This is the creation of evidence.
10.23 The Registrar is recorded as advising the Commissioner that I approached the FSA to stop the selling of products and to promote Lynn’s own brand. An anonymous internal email from the FSA is referenced which refers to Lynn’s “trying to clear the market for the launch of its own products.” This is nonsense. The evidence from the witnesses under perjury declarations is clear. The Kerry Foods ham product contained a prohibited carcinogenic substance. As a result of my intervention this was removed.
10.24 Kerry Foods did this and continued to sell its product.
10.25 The registrar’s comment is not evidence, but an opinion from someone who had no involvement in the matter at all. It is though presented as if it is evidence. The registrar reports to the Commissioner.
10.26 The anonymous FSA email is plain wrong and shows the lack of understanding I have had to deal with. The Kerry Foods product is ham, Lynn’s is bacon, you don’t seek to stop ham being sold to clear the market for bacon. This is nonsensical.
10.27 The Commissioner’s analysis at paragraph 135 fails to get to grips with the facts and rather seeks to rely on internal FSA emails when we don’t know who the author is or their state of knowledge and the content is clearly wrong.
10.28 The Commissioner doesn’t follow the unchallenged witness evidence and so doesn’t accept:
10.28.1 Kerry Foods product was ham and it contained an unlawful, banned carcinogenic curing agent. It was the duty of the FSA to require Kerry Foods to use a different curing agent and that is what happened.
10.28.2 The FSA then raised the issue of Lynn’s curing agent. I didn’t raise this but helped resolve it. This is not an issue I raised and so it is not within the lobbying rules.
10.29 At paragraph 137 the Commissioner states her opinion that a competitor product would be removed. The Commissioner says if this was the intention that is sufficient to breach the rule. This is the key factor in her decision and it is flawed. As a matter of fact, Kerry Foods ham is not a competitor product of Lynn’s naked bacon. This analysis is flawed and wrong. This flows from not engaging with witnesses or their evidence when I provided it.
10.30 It is on this basis that the Commissioner says she is satisfied that the meeting on 15 November 2017 and the email of the same date sought to confer a benefit on Lynn’s. This finding is clearly wrong. That addresses the issue regarding Lynn’s in terms of paid advocacy as this was my only approach.
10.31 The Commissioner goes on to refer at paragraph 139 to “the approaches relating to Lynn’s use of the Prosur’s product”. I did not approach the FSA about this matter. As is referred to in the witness evidence made under perjury declarations, it was the FSA who approached Lynn’s and me about this matter. There can be no breach of the lobbying rules where I am not responsible for raising an issue.
10.32 The Commissioner refers to various emails and meetings relating to Prosur. As I did not raise this issue those engagements are not relevant and not within the lobbying rules.
10.33 The Commissioner considers whether or not my actions fell within Rule 9 at paragraph 147 et seq.
10.33.1 The Commissioner accepts that the Rule does not prevent a Member raising a serious wrong that may have been previously raised before.
10.33.2 The Commissioner refers at paragraph 150 to the evidence of those who attended the meeting in November 2017. The Commissioner confuses unchallenged witness evidence with anonymous internal FSA emails that were not seen by me until in this inquiry. The Commissioner acting fairly and objectively should accept Professor Elliott’s evidence which corroborates mine in that I was focused on addressing a serious wrong.
10.33.3 At paragraph 151 the Commissioner has not understood that the issue is not the general use of nitrites, but the use of a nitrite that is expressly banned by law, being extracted from vegetable matter, which makes it more dangerous. The Commissioner does not reference this fact. The Commissioner again states that the ham product was sold by a competitor and its removal could have reduced the market for the new Lynn’s product. This is again confusing ham and bacon which are not competitor products.
10.33.4 It is these fundamental misunderstandings that drive the Commissioner to make her findings. The evidence proves the Commissioners analysis is wrong.
10.33.5 At paragraph 152 the Commissioner says it appears that Lynn’s raised the second issue, Prosur. That is incorrect and clearly so. It was raised by the FSA as confirmed in evidence by me, Professor Elliott, Matthew Forde and Declan Fergusson.
11 The Calibration of Laboratory Equipment
11.1 The UK Government spends considerable sums on medical aid. It is a serious wrong and a substantial injustice if that equipment is not fit for purpose and so produces adverse health outcomes. A key reason for this is a failure to be able to accurately and easily calibrate medical equipment for example equipment that checks blood for disease and infection.
11.2 I was aware that DfID wanted to understand new technologies and the solutions they can bring.
11.3 I was made aware of the need to better calibrate machines by Randox. I made it my business to look out for the responsible Minister, The Right Honourable Priti Patel MP in the division lobby. I mentioned the issue, my involvement and followed up with a letter making it clear I was a consultant to Randox.
11.4 Priti Patel referred the matter internally in DfID and I was contacted to meet The Right Honourable Rory Stewart MP. I attended that meeting.
11.5 Priti Patel and Rory Stewart have both given evidence in this matter.
11.6 Priti Patel has made a statement under a perjury declaration. In this Ms Patel confirms that she encouraged MPs to bring new suppliers and technologies to the attention of the department and that was what I was doing. Ms Patel received my letter and her department, not me, set up the meeting with Rory Stewart. Clearly those civil servants involved in setting up this meeting didn’t consider there was anything improper in this. I do not know who these individuals are as there has been no investigation of this issue by the Commissioner and I am unable to know this information.
11.7 Priti Patel confirms that my motivation was to effect change and drive better outcomes. Further that there was no impropriety in my approach and I was transparent as to my position with Randox.
11.8 Rory Stewart sent me an email which I forwarded to the Commissioner, dated 21 December 2020 and which reads (my emphasis):
Here is my memory of the meeting.
I met Owen Patterson in my DfiD office to hear more about a particular solution to problems with laboratory testing in the developing world. It was a relevant issue for DfiD since the department invests hundreds of millions a year of UK government money in Health programs in developing countries. High quality laboratory testing is a crucial part of tackling disease and mortality among infants and adults. Improving laboratory testing will bring significant benefits to health – and through health to livelihoods and incomes. And of course poor quality testing endangers the health of local populations – and if linked to UK health programs – compromising programs funded by UK tax- payers.
It was clear at the time that the technology being discussed had been developed and was being explained to us by a private sector company. This Is not unusual – much of the technology, and equipment used in international development is developed and sold by private sector companies. It was also clear that Owen Patterson was a consultant to the company. The arguments made for the equipment by the company were about its technical strengths and advantages for international development. But Mr Paterson did not, in my view, use the meeting to advocate specifically for this company. Instead he approached the conversation as someone with concern for UK tax-funded programs, lab testing, and an interest in improving health care – and an expertise in UK government.
As with any official engagement, we were careful as a department to ensure that officials were present at the meeting, along with the Minister. The Officials would not have permitted the meeting to continue if it breach the rules on Conduct of Members of the House. We listened carefully to the description of the problem and the proposed solution.
Following on from the meeting civil servants subjected the idea to the standard procedures, to which we would submit any idea or application presented to the department. This began with identifying whether there was ultimately a requirement for the product, and whether the product fits with Dfid’s strategic priorities and processes.
In the event, we concluded – regardless of the strengths and weaknesses of this particular product - that DfiD did not have a strategic requirement for such a product. We, therefore, took the idea no further. This was only ever an idea.
Had we ultimately decided that we had a requirement for such equipment we would have gone through an open and transparent public tender process, beginning with a public request for bids, and I as a Minister would not have played a role in the choice of supplier. But since we chose not to try to acquire such a product, there was in the event no need for a tender.
Owen Paterson was totally clear with me as to his capacity as a consultant, but he was not in my view conducting himself in that particular meeting as a paid advocate for that product. Instead he made arguments about the principle of good laboratory testing, as someone who was concerned to make sure that UK tax money was well spent overseas, and to achieve better healthcare outcomes.
The Commissioner’s Findings
11.9 The Commissioner does not accept that I was participating in an approach made by Randox. This is the on the basis that approach was three months before mine. This timing does not appear to have been investigated by the Commissioner, as much of this three-month period fell within the Parliamentary summer recess/conference season.
11.10 Randox’s letter dated 28 July 2016 was sent during the Parliamentary Summer recess. This was from 21 July to 5 September 2016. This was then followed by the Conference recess which ran from 15 September 2016 to 10 October 2016. So in reality from 28 July to 12 October in the Commons was not 12 weeks, and was only 10 sitting days.
11.11 I was, as a matter of fact, following up Randox’s letter because it had not been answered. I do not accept the Commissioner’s finding that because 3 months had elapsed this was a new approach. It was not. The letter I sent the following day was my confirmation of the discussion which, as can be seen, I usually send.
11.12 The Commissioner without explanation rejects Rory Stewart’s evidence and finds the approach was designed to benefit Randox. This is a remarkable finding as the Commissioner has not spoken to Rory Stewart.
11.13 It is not a fair process to receive evidence from a highly reputable source, a former Government Minister and to reject it without investigation or challenge. This is not in accordance with natural justice. If the Commissioner chooses not to accept Mr Stewart’s evidence then a fair process requires that the Commissioner puts her challenges to Mr Stewart and then objectively determines the matter once they have been responded to.
11.14 The Commissioner should follow the unchallenged witness evidence and that confirms that there was no paid advocacy.
11.15 I did not make the approach in this matter. That was made by Randox and I followed it up.
11.16 I was dealing with better health outcomes for the most vulnerable in the world. It is a serious wrong and/or a substantial injustice to receive poor medical intervention which can result in death.
11.17 I did not engage in any paid advocacy as Rory Stewart has confirmed.
12 Declarations of Interest
12.1 Did I declare my interest when engaging in my capacity as a consultant?
12.2 The evidence that I always declare my interests is overwhelming and yet the Commissioner finds that I do not.
12.3 It is my invariable practice whenever I engage with anyone as a Consultant to tell them that I am a consultant. For example in dealing with milk, as Professor Middlemiss and Mr Watson testify I would say I am sitting on a three legged milking stool, I am a consultant to Randox, an MP for a rural constituency and a former Secretary of State for DEFRA.
12.4 The following witnesses confirm that I disclosed my interests:
12.4.1 Professor Elliott - “Mr Paterson was clear that he was present in his capacity as a consultant to Lynn’s Country Foods”
12.4.2 Declan Fergusson - “Mr Paterson always stated he was a consultant in each meeting at the outset”
12.4.3 Matthew Forde - “I have noted that Mr Paterson was attending in his capacity as a consultant for LCF. I recall that at the outset of the meeting all of the attendees were required to introduce themselves in turn, confirming the capacity in which they were attending. I cannot remember the exact words Mr Paterson used when he introduced himself at the beginning of the meeting but I am reasonably certain that he confirmed he was attending in his capacity as a paid consultant for LCF and that everyone attending was aware that he was attending in this capacity and nobody took issue with this. ” He goes on at paragraph 15 to state, “Mr Paterson was always transparent in the FSA dealings that I was involved with and there was never any question of the capacity he was acting in.”
12.4.4 Mark Campbell - “Mr Paterson invariably starts each meeting by saying he is a paid consultant to Randox. To my memory he is fastidious in this.”
12.4.5 Ben Bartlett - “Mr Paterson made it clear that he had three interests in this issue: (i) as the MP for North Shropshire, a rural constituency with a huge dairy industry, (ii) as the Former Defra Secretary; and (Hi) as a paid consultant for Randox.” And “In all my meetings with Mr Paterson at all times he identified himself as a consultant to Randox”.
12.4.6 Eamon Watson - “At each meeting Mr Paterson made clear he was wearing three hats (1) as the MP for North Shropshire a rural constituency and home to a Muller processing site, (2) as the former Defra secretary and (3) as a paid consultant to Randox”.
12.4.7 The Hon Alexandra Guyver - “I have often heard Mr Paterson introducing himself as a paid consultant at the beginning of meetings…”
12.4.8 Rory Stewart - “it was clear that Owen Paterson was a consultant to the company”.
12.4.9 Tim Bennett - “he was retained as a consultant by Randox”.
12.4.10 Professor Christine Middlemiss – “At each of these meetings, Mr Paterson would make reference to the fact he was sat on a “three legged milking stool”: (1) as the MP for a rural constituency which is home to Muller, one of the largest dairy suppliers in the UK; (2) as the former Secretary of State for Defra; and (3) as a paid consultant for Randox. I remember he would make these declarations at the start of each meeting.”
12.4.11 Rt Hon Priti Patel MP and Home Secretary “Mr Paterson stated he was a paid consultant to Randox Laboratories”.
12.5 In addition, my capacity is recorded in letters and emails.
12.6 Everyone I dealt with as a consultant knew I was acting as a consultant.
The Commissioner’s Findings
12.7 The Commissioner finds that “relevant financial interests are to be declared in any communication, formal or informal, when approaching others” (my emphasis), paragraph 233.
12.8 In Paragraph 234 whilst accepting that my “general approach was to declare my interests and those who had regular contact with him were well aware of these”. The Commissioner also states that “I have seen emails from Mr Paterson to FSA officials which did not include a declaration (of interest)”. These emails were not approaching others but followed approaches in which I declared my interest.
12.9 The Commissioner finds that I breached the rules in emails I sent to the Chair of the FSA dated 16 November 2016, 15 November 2017, 8 January 2018 and 17 January 2018.
12.10 The Chair of the FSA was always aware that I was acting as a consultant to Randox and Lynn’s. I made this disclosure when I met with the Chair and it is referenced in letters and internal FSA emails. It is clear that the FSA and its Chair knew my capacity.
12.11 When I approached the FSA, I made my capacity clear. That does not require me to keep stating my capacity. The FSA knew my capacity as it was disclosed at the outset. Tim Bennett confirms this as do my other witnesses.
12.12 I note that whilst the Commissioner says I did not make a disclosure to the Chair of the FSA there is no evidence to support this assertion. My evidence is that the Chair knew my capacity as I disclosed it and so there is no breach of the rules.
13 Use of Parliamentary facilities
13.1 I am accused of the misuse of House-provided resources, through the use of my parliamentary office in connection with consultancy matters.
13.2 Rebecca Harris MP, a senior Government Whip, concludes that, “It has never been suggested to me that the use by an MP of his office for occasional meetings due to the need to be on the Parliamentary Estate is an abuse of the Rules on Conduct and I don’t believe it is. We certainly wanted MPs to do this during this period and not leave the Estate and we encouraged this.”
13.3 Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, the former leader of the Conservative Party and former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who states at paragraph 5 of his letter, “Many members take phone calls relating to their other interests within their parliamentary office.” And at paragraph 1, “When there is a whip in place, it is absolutely necessary to remain on the parliamentary estate.” He also states at paragraph 2, “The subject matter of any meeting could, in the future, become parliamentary business and so it is vital that we are aware of these issues.”
13.4 Rt Hon Professor Sir Oliver Letwin, the former Minister of State for Government Policy and advisor to Former Prime Ministers is a man of considerable standing within and outside of Parliament. The Commissioner describes him in his report just as “a former MP”. He states, “there will inevitably be times when an MP who needs to be on the estate will need to make or receive calls or written communications, or will need to be involved in meetings, that relate to the party political, private or business dealings of that MP.” He continues, “As someone who was (in the period between 2017 and 2019) actively involved in the Brexit debate, on the opposing side to that supported by Owen Paterson - that I can testify to the huge absorption of time during which participants on either side of the debate were compelled to remain on the parliamentary estate in order to be rapidly available for a series of often unpredictable and sometimes very important parliamentary interventions and votes.”
13.5 Graham Stringer MP who is an experienced Labour MP and so not a supporter of a Conservative MP, but nevertheless confirms the following, “It was very difficult during this period to plan to be away from the Parliamentary Estate as it was an extremely fluid situation in which amendments were being tabled to motions and then withdrawn or added at a late state and it was necessary to be closely monitoring all that was happening and that was difficult to do other than being within the Parliamentary Estate.”
13.6 The Hon Alexandra Guyver, my office manager, confirms, “Mr Paterson keeps his paid consultancies entirely separate from his duties as an MP. He always uses his personal phone and personal email address for his consultancy matters. He does not involve his office staff in issues relating to his consultancy work.”
13.7 Claire Ayres, my senior parliamentary assistant states, “Mr Paterson keeps his personal business entirely separate from his duties as an MP. I am not involved in his consultancy matters and he has never asked me to be.”
13.8 Each of these witnesses gives evidence that is uncontested.
13.9 The effect of this evidence is that it proves that I was acting properly in convening a very limited number of meetings in my Parliamentary Office. Some 2.5% of the total meetings. On any sensible view of the evidence, this cannot be described as anything other than very occasional, and permitted, use of my office – it cannot sensibly be described (as found by the Commissioner at paragraph 269 of her Memorandum) as “routinely holding meeting with, and about, [my] clients and their interests”. The Commissioner does not dispute that in a 15 month period (October 2016 to December 2017) only 5 meetings with Randox or Lynns were held in my office (see paragraph 253). Such use can only sensibly be described as permissible “occasional” use, as is 25 times over 3½ years (October 2016 to February 2020).
13.10 The evidence from these witnesses, particularly the Members of Parliament, was that I was acting as was required at the time as I had to be on the Parliamentary Estate. The Government Whip even states that Members of Parliament were actively encouraged to conduct their external business on the estate to ensure they could attend to parliamentary business at a moment’s notice.
13.11 This clear and consistent evidence is wrongly dismissed by the Commissioner at para 268 as suggesting “that I may not be the only Member improperly using his office for private interests”. Further, there is nothing in the Commissioner’s Memorandum to show that this consistent evidence does not reflect the “customs and practice of the House and Members” (SO150(9)(c)).
13.12 Apart from the two letters referred to earlier (which I have always admitted), there is no evidence at all before the Commissioner to support a conclusion that by the very occasional use of my office for business purposes, I mis-used House resources.
14.1 I have not breached the Rules of conduct.
14.2 There has not been a fair and proper investigation. My evidence and that of witnesses is just ignored without reason.
14.3 The memorandum would not stand up to scrutiny in any court. It does not meet the basic standards of an investigation required in workplaces throughout the UK as helpfully set out by ACAS. It does not comply with natural justice.
Statement of truth
I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.
THE RT HON OWEN PATERSON MP
Date: 8th August 2021
308 The Memorandum ends “[insert date]” and this is but one example of a lack of attention to detail in what is a most serious matter.
309 Pages 168–213 and 277 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
310 Pages 100–101 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
311 Pages 178–180 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
312 See my letter dated 15 January 2021 – pages 127 to 160 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
313 Pages 287 to 305 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
314 Draft memorandum 1 December 2020.
315 Pages 210 to 211 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
316 Pages 168 to 173 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum. The Professor of Food Safety at Queen’s University, the founder of the Institute for Global Food Safety, visiting Professor at the China Agriculture University in Beijing and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2017 Professor Elliott was awarded an OBE for his work on food integrity. He has published more than 450 papers in the field of detection and control of chemical contaminants in agri-food commodities and co-ordinates one of the world’s largest research projects in this area (). Since 1986 Professor Elliott has been engaged in research related to a wide range of toxic chemicals in foods and agricultural commodities.
317 Pages 191 to 193 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
318 Pages 212 to 213 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
319 Pages 196 to 197 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
320 Pages 168 to 173 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
321 Pages 181 to 184 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
322 Pages 174 to 177 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
323 Pages 178 to 180 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
324 Page 201 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
325 Pages 168 to 173 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 18.
326 Pages 174 to 177 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 11.
327 Pages 181 to 184 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 12.
328 21 Pages 185 to 190 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 32.
329 22 Pages 191 to 195 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraphs 10 and 12.
330 23 Pages 196 to 197 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 7.
331 24 Page 198 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 5.
332 25 Page 201 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
333 26 Pages 210 to 211 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 4.
334 Pages 212 to 213 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraphs 10.
335 Page 277 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum, paragraph 5.
336 Pages 207 to 209 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
337 Pages 205 to 206 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
338 Pages 202 to 203 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
339 Page 204 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
340 Page 198 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.
341 Pages 199 to 200 of the Written Evidence Bundle to the Commissioner’s Memorandum.