An artisan cheesemaker has expressed delight after securing a legal ruling in its favour.
Errington Cheese Ltd went to court to seek a reversal of a sheriff’s decision to condemn four batches of cheese earlier this year.
A judge at the Court of Session ruled on Thursday that the sheriff had made a legal misdirection over the decision.
The judge, Lord Bannatyne, ordered that the batches, seized by order of South Lanarkshire Council in 2016, should be released.
Company founder Humphrey Errington said: “We’re delighted the Court of Session has ruled in our favour with the company’s efforts now focused on getting the business back on track.”
The cheese producer’s Dunsyre Blue had been linked to a 2016 E.coli outbreak in which a three-year-old girl died, but it strongly disputed its product was the cause.
In a court ruling this summer, Sheriff Robert Weir QC cleared the firm of breaching food safety laws.
In a case brought against Errington by the local authority, the sheriff found claims the firm had failed to comply with legal standards were “not well-founded” and refused an application to destroy dozens of batches of cheese.
However, he did condemn four batches – one of Lanark Blue and three of Corra Linn – after finding they had failed to meet food safety requirements.
Errington Cheese, of Carnwath, sought a judicial review of the decision surrounding the four batches at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Finding in Errington’s favour, in a brief ruling, Lord Bannatyne said the sheriff had “misdirected himself in law”.
He overturned the decision to condemn the four batches and ordered they be released to the firm.
Mr Errington said it was a “significant” legal ruling which will have “lasting implications” for food producers, as well as the overall remit of Food Standards Scotland (FSS).
He said: “We’re delighted the Court of Session has ruled in our favour with the company’s efforts now focussed on getting the business back on track by increasing production and sales, while also coming to a settlement with the local authority over our legal fees and compensation for spoiled produce.
“Once an agreement is reached, we’ll hopefully be in a position to re-employ some of our loyal workforce.”
A spokesman for South Lanarkshire Council said: “The council will fully comply with the order from the court.”
FSS was not a party to the judicial review which overturned the sheriff’s decision, but it said it will “consider the implications of the review for food safety in Scotland”.
A spokeswoman added: “Food Standards Scotland has throughout this incident, as at all times, acted in the best interests of the public.”