The ever-growing horsemeat scandal will only be resolved through closer co-operation with European police forces, says local Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion.

horsemeat-lasagne-jokeThe West Midlands MEP warned that opting out of European police co-operation, as some Conservatives and UKIP want, would wreck efforts to catch the criminals behind the trade in bogus minced beef.
Phil Bennion, who is an arable farmer and former chair of Staffordshire NFU, said the horsemeat scandal has revealed how deeply integrated food supply chains are across Europe.

He said: “Behind the jokes, the scale of the problem shows we are dealing with an international criminal conspiracy. As I suspected, initial claims that it was the fault of dodgy Romanian abattoirs turned out to be wide of the mark. This fraud is being carried out with meat after it has been minced.

“Any farmer or meat trader can instantly see the difference between joints of beef or horse, but it is much less easy to spot as mincemeat, especially if mixed with other processed meat products.

“The safety of the British public can only be ensured through effective European police cooperation to uncover the criminal networks profiting from industrial scale food crime and smuggling of counterfeit goods. 

"Farmers and honest food retailers are being let down, as well as consumers, if we fail to crack down.

“It is simply impossible for one country alone to tackle it. That’s why the Coalition Government and their European counterparts are right to get the EU police agency, Europol, involved."

Europol is currently led by Rob Wainwright from Britain, formerly head of the International Department of the UK's SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency). Europol is the world’s most advanced international criminal intelligence agency, coordinating DNA testing and detective work across Europe to track down the criminals behind the horsemeat fraud, which now seems to affect almost every EU country.

 Dr Bennion added: “I note that even Owen Paterson, the Eurosceptic Tory Environment Secretary, now says Europol is 'the right organisation to coordinate efforts to uncover all wrongdoing and bring criminals to justice, wherever there may be'.

"Mr Paterson’s u-turn on the value of Europol to Britain is welcome. But he should now explain his logic to Bill Cash and the 100 rightwing Conservative MPs calling for the UK to pull out of all EU police cooperation, including Europol."

“As the Association of Chief Police Officers put it, pulling out of EU police cooperation 'would be a massive step back for UK policing' and risks 'turning the UK into a safe haven for Europe’s criminals'. 

“For the sake of British national security and public safety, I hope that Owen Paterson’s epiphany is the first of many in his party. 

"We should not put blind nationalism ahead of public health.” 


The list of Tory MPs in this region backing a pull-out from Europol, in defiance of police advice, includes:


  • Robin Walker, MP for Worcester
  • Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin - Member of the APPG Homeland Security. 


  • Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Chris White, MP for Warwick & Leamington - Member of the APPG Emergency Services
  • Dan Byles, MP for North Warwickshire - Member of the APPG Homeland Security
  • Marcus Jones, MP for Nuneaton


  • Margot James, MP for Stourbridge  - Member of the APPG International Justice
  • Chris Kelly, MP for Dudley South
  • James Morris, MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis - Member of the APPG Homeland Security and APPG Emergency Services
  • Richard Shepherd, MP for Aldbridge-Brownhills


  • Bill Cash, MP for Stone – Member of the European Scrutiny Committee.
  • Karen Bradley, MP for Staffordshire Moorlands
  • Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford - Member of the APPG Human Trafficking and APPG Corruption
  • Christopher Pincher, MP for Tamworth

Pic: twitter/@pukkapixels