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Monday, 10 May 2010

British Airways price fixing trial collapses

The high profile criminal trial of four BA executives has collapsed today when the prosecution offered no evidence. The problem arose over disclosure of relevant material to the defence, to be precise some 70,000 e-mails in the hands of Virgin Atlantic, of which 12,000 were sent or received by the central prosecution witness. According to the Press Association, "The court was told the missing emails were in corrupted files which had been dismissed as irrelevant during the initial investigation. But last week it emerged the corrupted files could be repaired and contained the "large quantity" of emails."

To put it mildly, this is highly embarrassing for the OFT. The issue is whether this is one-off prosecutorial incompetence or represents a more systemic problem. Andreas Stephan of UEA wins the prediction guru prize (http://competitionpolicy.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/the-trial-that-will-make-or-break-the-uk-cartel-offence-begins-today-the-british-airways-four/#more-305), although probably not in the way he thought he would. More comments form him are promised once the UK has a government!

A link to the Press Association report is at: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/ Daily Telegraph has a bit more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7705592/British-Airways-price-fixing-trial-collapses.html

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