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Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK


P&O caught out by wine fraud

Some of the fake labels seized by Spanish police

Fake bottles of Rioja wine have been withdrawn from sale on P&O ferries after the company discovered it had been unwittingly selling it for two years.

The BBC's Bob Sinkinson: "There have been no complaints about the wine"
P&O said the wine was immediately taken off the shelves when the con emerged after a Spanish police operation.

A British supermarket chain has also been selling the fake wine for two years.

P&O spokesman Chris Laming said: "We are very concerned that this situation has arisen."

But the company had received no complaints from customers.

Spanish police estimate that one million bottles of fake Rioja were exported into the UK.

[ image: The wine was immediately removed from P&O shops]
The wine was immediately removed from P&O shops
An ordinary table wine produced in a cellar in the Spanish region of La Mancha, 300 miles south of the northern region of Rioja, was labelled as the prestigious Don Marino IV.

"It wasn't bad wine, but it certainly wasn't Rioja," said a spokesman for the Spanish police.

Investigations began when genuine exporters became suspicious that the wine was being sold at an impossibly low price early this year.

Four charged

When police raided the cellar they found 300,000 counterfeit labels, the spokesman said.

British police have seized 30,000 bottles of the wine over the past two weeks, he added.

Three Spaniards and one Briton have been charged with fraud after being detained for questioning in Spain.

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