UPDATE: The proprietor of an Irish meat trading company McAdam Food Products Ltd, Martin McAdam will sue ABP Food Group for alleged defamation and loss of business over assertions made publicly by ABP about McAdam during the outbreak of the horsemeat scandal in Ireland in February 2013.
The notice of High Court proceedings has been served on ABP. The outcome of the proceedings now initiated against ABP will be decided by the High Court.
Mr McAdam will allege in the High Court that ABP deliberately made “false and malicious allegations” about him and his meat trading business. It will be alleged that this was in order to deflect media attention from ABP who were at the centre of the horsemeat scandal at that particular time.
Central to the case is a press release issued by ABP Group in February 2013. This stated: “ABP Food Group confirms that Silvercrest purchased beef products from McAdams Food Service (circa 170 tonnes out of total beef purchases in 2012 of 18,000 tonnes). It now appears that, while Silvercrest purchased these beef products in good faith, horse DNA originating in Poland was present in some of these products.”
The allegedly false and malicious statement issued by ABP Food Group was widely distributed and reported in the Irish and international media, causing immense damage to the reputation and business of Martin McAdam and McAdam Food Products.
Mr McAdam’s legal representatives Denis McSweeney & Company have informed ABP that its statement was false in that McAdam did not supply the meat to Silvercrest which tested positive for horse DNA. “In fact, McAdam supplied only 60 tonnes of beef in total to Silvercrest in 2012 and not 170 tonnes as stated in the ABP press release,” they claim.
As the international horsemeat in beef contamination scandal unfolded from February 2013 onwards, Mr McAdam consistently stated that he had no awareness or knowledge whatsoever of any possibility of there being equine content in meat products imported and supplied by him to his customers.
A statement issued by his legal team this morning said: “Any such products were ordered and paid for by him at beef market prices and imported on the basis of their being understood and documented to be beef, and nothing else. Mr McAdam provided all foreign supplier details and extensive documentation to the authorities including emails, invoices, commercial documents and veterinary letters stating that all products purchased by him were beef only.
“As a meat trader he never had any physical possession of beef meat consignments ordered by him which came direct from suppliers abroad to his customers in Ireland. Transportation was made by a reputable Danish transport company in sealed door to door containers.”
It continued: “Mr McAdam was subsequently exonerated from knowingly importing horsemeat by the Department of Agriculture’s report on the matter. The same extensive report also makes no reference whatsoever to McAdam Food Products supplying ABP with beef containing horse DNA and McAdam fully expects that this will be further clarified in the High Court, ie that his company did not at any stage supply any beef products containing horse DNA to the then ABP owned Silvercrest Foods.”
The claim against ABP Food Group is in relation to the assertions made by ABP when there was no evidence linking McAdam to the product at Silvercrest which was under investigation.
Mr McAdam’s legal team will provide evidence of the alleged defamation and other corroborating details to the High Court when the case is heard and, until a hearing takes place, neither they nor Mr McAdam will be making any further comments on the matter.
In a statement this morning, ABP Group said it contests all allegations.
“ABP can confirm that its lawyers were notified on Tuesday 13 August that Martin McAdam and McAdam Food Products Limited have issued defamation proceedings against ABP Food Group,” it said.
The received documents did not contain specific information as to the details of the proceedings and the company is currently awaiting this information from McAdam Food Products.
“ABP does not believe that there is any basis for the claim or that it has damaged Mr McAdam’s reputation or the reputation of McAdam Food Products. ABP has every intention of fighting this spurious claim and is continuing to investigate its legal options against McAdam Food Products and other parties who are found to have supplied beef contaminated by horsemeat. It is not appropriate for ABP to comment further in the circumstances,” the statement concluded.
UPDATE: This story was updated at 10.55am with a statement from ABP Group