Businessman rejects accusations of mixing horsemeat with beef

A businessman refused to accept allegations that he oversaw the mixing of horsemeat with beef at his north London company in a crown court hearing on Wednesday, July 19.

The 55-year-old told the jury that his business – Dinos & Sons – has never purchased, used or sold horsemeat, amid accusations that he falsified paperwork and labels in order to pass off horsemeat as beef.

However, Andronicos Sideras’ company did receive shipments of horsemeat at the premises, but he claimed that he was only storing the produce for another firm – a common occurrence for the business.

Sideras alleged the shipment was relabelled by his company because the packaging had been damaged during transit.

The business was reportedly holding the meat on behalf of the Danish-based company, Flexi Foods – with 58-year-old owner Ulrik Nielson and his “right-hand man”, Alex Beech, already admitting to involvement in the horsemeat scandal.

The trial at the inner London crown court is ongoing, with Sideras facing charges of one count of conspiracy to defraud between January 1 and November 30, 2012.

Spanish arrests

Last week, an organised crime group was dismantled by the Spanish Guardia Civil, in partnership with Europol, for trading horsemeat in Europe that was unfit for human consumption.

Some 65 people were arrested in Spain and charged with crimes including: animal abuse; document forgery; crimes against public health; money laundering; and perverting the course of justice.

The operation is believed to have been carried out in coordination with seven other countries.

It was through this investigation that the Guardia Civil tracked down a Dutch businessman who was leading the activities of the organisation, and who has been linked to the Irish case of beef burgers made with horsemeat.

In 2013, Irish authorities first detected larges traces of horsemeat in beef-labelled products, prompting a Europe-wide investigation into the origins of the practice.