By Maximilian Clarke

Tesco has been rapped by the Office for Fair Trading for allegedly colluding with suppliers to fix the price of cheese- allegations the retail giant denies.

Tesco went beyond refuting the OFT’s findings, blaming the UK’s competition regime as a whole. They cited several other cases including allegations of butter and milk fixing, all of which were dropped due to poor evidence.

"We are disheartened and disturbed that the OFT continues to pursue this costly and time consuming case at the expense of both the tax payer and UK business,” says Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco’s Director of Corporate and Legal Affairs. “This is all the more surprising given that the OFT itself said that ‘competition in the supermarket sector is generally intense and has delivered significant benefits to shoppers’. We have always said we did not collude on prices on cheese and we stand firm in our rebuttal of these ongoing allegations. We will continue to defend our position vigorously, through the courts if necessary."

In April 2010, the OFT cleared Tesco of any wrongdoing following a seven year investigation into alleged tobacco price fixing. In refuting the OFT’s cheese pricing allegation, Tesco has criticised the legitimacy of evidence and the length and execution of the administrative process.

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