Horsegate duo plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud charges

Two of the three men charged with fraud relating to the horsemeat scandal have pleaded guilty. 

At Inner London Crown Court, Ulrik Nielsen and Alex Beech both pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to defraud during the period 1 January and 31 October 2012

A third man, Andronicos Sideras, pleaded not guilty to the same charges. His trial has been set for 3 July.

Nielsen and Beech were released on bail and will be sentenced once Sideras’ trial has finished.

Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said Nielsen and Beech planned to disclose full details of their involvement in the horsemeat scandal. “There are issues relating to the precise dates of the indictment, the precise number of shipments that were undertaken, and the financial loss to others,” he said. “There may be an issue as to the consequential losses to the food industry as a whole and whether it’s possible to attribute a figure to be put on it.”

The charges brought against the three men are the result of an international criminal investigation by London Police, also acting as the National Policing Lead for Fraud, alongside the Food Standards Agency and Crown Prosecution Services, as well as law enforcement agencies from Europe.

On Twitter, Andy Morling, head of food crime at the Food Standards Agency praised the work of the police in bringing the three men to court. He said: “Two early guilty pleas a reflection of the solid investigation conducted by @CityPoliceFraud.”

Judge Usha Kara didn’t rule out a custodial sentence for those involved. “Dependent on the nature and extent of the allegations, a custodial sentence would be included in any sentencing options,” he said.

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