STATE RECORDS: Significant Irish beef fraud allegations in 1983 were noted in confidential state records published this week in communications between officials at the Chief State Solicitor and the Attorney General’s office. They sought legal advice on whether to pursue beef fraud allegations in the civil courts and also criminal proceedings.

State records show the Chief State Solicitor at the time was furnished evidence by the Department of Agriculture of significant beef fraud by a well-known meat processing company.

“The matter concerns very serious allegations of fraud in the operation of the company business as an approved de-boning company of intervention beef,” a report by the Chief State Solicitor outlined.

The significant allegations arose out of a letter, written by a former manager at the company, and a check of de-boned beef in cold-storage which revealed substantial evidence to support the claims, the records state.

“The beef in cold storage and available for checking covered a six-month period and on that basis of checks carried out the established loss amounts to about £5,000 per month or in total £30,000 so far this year.”

The Chief State Solicitor report outlined a number of difficulties to sue the company civilly in particular, the department cannot relate any of the approved losses to a particular vendor meat company as the beef in cold storage may be the product of a number of company transactions.

In terms of criminal proceedings the confidential report noted: “If it is decided that criminal proceedings would be more appropriate there may be difficulties by reason of the fact that 1. The minister’s personnel were in the factory with specific instructions to monitor the whole operation. 2. In establishing that the directors of the company or any particular employee were involved.”

The report also noted another aspect of the allegations whereby an anonymous letter was furnished by the department as far back as 1981 to carry out an investigation into ongoing beef fraud claims into the same company.

The Attorney General in reply found that civil and criminal proceedings “would have little chance of success” and sought further consultation with the Department of Agriculture.

The confidential records were released this week.