Farm group settles protest row with Asda

A FARMING pressure group's High Court battle with a supermarket giant has ended peacefully after an injunction that prevented unlawful protests outside its depots was lifted.

Farmers For Action (FFA) has been taking on Asda at Leeds High Court after holding protests to represent dairy farmers in a dispute over milk prices and the supply chain.

The injunction, which stopped FFA members from obstructing or trespassing on Asda premises, was discharged after both sides reached an agreement, a judge said yesterday.

It was partially lifted earlier this month by another judge against all protesters apart from the seven listed on the order, which included David Handley, the FFA chairman.

Asda and FFA confirmed they had reached an agreement, after claims from Mr Handley in court earlier this month that the chain portrayed his group as an "out-of-control mob".

A joint statement said: "Following a productive meeting between senior representatives from Farmers for Action and Asda, we're pleased to say we've now resolved our differences.

"Asda has made it clear that it respects the rights of farmers to lawfully protest outside its premises, and FFA made it clear it is committed to ensuring its members always abide by the law so that Asda can go about its business without disruption."

An order was made by Judge John Behrens yesterday that lifted the last temporary injunction granted by Judge Roger Kaye QC on January 7 against seven FFA defendants, but there was no order made for costs.

Mr Handley said after the case: "It's increased the profile of the problem.

"The sad part about it is that there was no winner or loser, but it has caused a lot of distress for a lot of people."

Asda has insisted it only wants to prevent unlawful protests, its price paid to farmers has increased to 26.25p a litre and that its retail milk prices are unchanged since last July.

A spokeswoman added that it has an exclusive relationship with a group of farmers in an Asda-dedicated supply chain, and it pays a premium for this.