We spent yesterday in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, petitioning the court to declare unlawful the 169 detention notices placed on batches of Lanark Blue and Corra Linn by South Lanarkshire Council. These notices were for an indefinite period and did not allow us to appeal against them.
South Lanarkshire Council had proposed that they would test eight batches a week (over about 21 weeks) and then ask Food Standards Scotland to consider removing these particular batches from the FAFA as satisfactory results became available.
We had no confidence that Food Standards Scotland would agree to this. Already, some batches of Corra Linn and Lanark Blue have had test suites completed five times but SLC have not removed the detention notices nor FSS altered the FAFA. We decided to petition for judicial review. Today the judge, Lord Bannatyne, granted our petition that the “Detention Notices” were unlawful and he described the use of them as irrational and absurd. SLC have been given until Friday 3rd February to decide whether or not to take the correct action open to them under s.9 of the 1990 Act.
We have repeatedly asked FSS to meet us to discuss the interpretation of test results and placing the cheese back on the market. However, it appears that FSS have no intention of sitting down face-to-face and discussing the interpretation of the science so we feel that the only way we can move forward is to do this before a Sheriff which is why we are hoping SLC will follow the judge’s advice.
I am sorry that South Lanarkshire Council, with whom we have always had a good working relationship, seem to have been abandoned by FSS to clear up the mess. SLC have been placed in a very difficult position but we will continue to work positively with them over the coming weeks.
.We intend to put in a Section 1 petition to recover the epidemiological evidence upon which the FSS has relied to condemn Dunsyre blue and link it to the outbreak. We have been consistently denied access to this, which I feel is completely unreasonable when we have been accused of something so serious.
I continue to feel frustrated by the whole situation with FSS; as a multi-million pound funded government agency they continue to act aggressively towards us simply, as far as I can see, because we are standing up for our small farm and cheesemaking business.
Food Safety is my highest priority and it is upsetting that they continue to maintain that we have serious deficiencies. These have not been identified by SLC (annually), external auditors (annually), FSA (Oct 2014) or their own auditors when they visited in September and, quite frankly. I find it defamatory. This is not what government agencies and their employees are appointed to do.