Lanark Blue cheesemaker wins £254k case at a cost

Founder of the cheesemaking company, Humphrey Errington, now retired from the day-to-day running of the firm
Founder of the cheesemaking company, Humphrey Errington, now retired from the day-to-day running of the firm

Clydesdale’s world-famous Lanark Blue cheesemaker has been awarded over a quarter million pounds in compensation from South Lanarkshire Council.

However, it is understood that the Walston-based Errington Cheese incurred £350,000 in legal bills pursuing a civil action against the council over the seizure of quantities of its cheese in 2016 following an e-coli scare.

The council’s - and taxpayer’s - legal bill is understood to be half a million pounds.

At Hamilton Sheriff Court last week Sheriff Robert Weir ruled that the company had not breached food safety standards when making the unfairly suspected batches of Lanark Blue and Corral Linn cheeses.

The council ordered their seizure after the death from e-coli of a young girl was linked to an Errington product.

The court ruling has effectively removed any blame from the company for the e-coli outbreak.

During the dispute the council’s actions nearly brought the company to its knees: the compensation payment - which the firm claims does not cover the costs of the lost stock and damage to sale - has at least meant the re-hiring of two valued employees who had to be laid off.

The daughter of company founder Humphrey Errington, Selina Cairns, has been quoted as saying that, although the £254,000 awarded the company did not cover its costs restoring its reputation, it had been worth pursuing the action which she said had proven the council wrong.

She said the firm would now concentrate on building back up its stocks and sales in 2019.

The council has issued a short statement, confirming a compensation payment had been agreed with the cheesemakers.

The Gazette understands that the council is querying the size of the legal bill for the court proceedings.