Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 09:30 UK

OFT in 100,000 Morrisons payout

Morrisons plans to give the money to charity

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is giving supermarket chain Morrisons 100,000 to settle a defamation case.

In 2007, the OFT named the firm among those subject to an OFT provisional finding suggesting it broke rules over milk, cheese and butter for two years.

The body also suggested it had already warned the grocer in connection with anti-competitive behaviour.

But the claims were not true. The OFT said it wished to "sincerely apologise" for these "serious errors".


The only allegation regarding Morrisons was related to liquid milk products - not butter or cheese - and dated back to 2002 alone, rather than 2002 to 2003, said the OFT.

In addition, the body said it "accepts that Morrisons had not received a warning from the OFT".

Morrisons was one of the firms named by the OFT in a statement of objections in September 2007, about a number of supermarkets and dairy processors regarding price-fixing.

At the same time, the OFT issued a press release on the topic.

The OFT said it "was and is in no position to decide whether there has been a breach of law until it has considered the responses to the statement of objections".

Retailers Asda, Sainsbury's and Safeway and several dairies have admitted to price-fixing during the two-year period to 2003.

But Tesco and Morrisons are still fighting OFT claims over price-fixing.

Morrisons, which acquired Safeway in 2004, stated that it "should not be a part of this inquiry and that Morrisons inherited from Safeway a matter not of its making or doing".

The body said none of the comments by the OFT last September were intended to suggest the firm "was guilty, or would necessarily be found guilty, of price-fixing" in relation to the supply of certain liquid milk goods in 2002.

The OFT said it remained entirely open-minded about its provisional findings, pending consideration of representations from Morrisons.

The supermarket said it would give the 100,000 to its charity of the year for 2008, a partnership between Help the Aged and Childline.

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