Egg farmer guilty of ‘free range’ charges

Wayside Farm at Whittingham near Preston
Wayside Farm at Whittingham near Preston

A farmer has been found guilty of allegations he committed fraud by lying about eggs he supplied from his farm.

Businessman Anthony Clarkson, of Meadow Croft, Back Lane, Whittingham, near Preston, committed offences at Wayside Farm in the village as long as two years ago.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court cleared the 59-year-old of a charge of stamping eggs with a false best before date, but found him guilty of charges of fraud by dishonestly making a false representation, namely by misdescribing the farming method of eggs, and by marketing barn eggs as free range eggs.

The trial was told a probe was launched by egg inspectors after a visit to his farm in 2014.

Food safety laws mean eggs have to be stamped with a unique producer code and indicate whether the eggs are free range, barn produced or cage produced, allowing the eggs to be traced back to where they were laid.

Clarkson purported some free range eggs had been produced at his farm when they were in fact barn eggs he bought from another firm.

He then fraudulently marketed them as free range.

Earlier in the case, prosecutor Howard Shaw said: “He sold or offered for sale a quantity of eggs indicating they were free range eggs when really they were barn eggs bought from two suppliers. He therefore made significant profits.”

Clarkson, whose business can produce about 12,000 free range eggs a day, will be sentenced on June 13 after the judge adjourned the case for a pre -entence report.