• Retailer denies charge of mislabelling cashmere scarves 
  • Reporting restrictions lifted after trial started last month
  • Lawyer for Edinburgh Woollen Mill voices concern over impact on its business from publicity 

Edinburgh Woollen Mill has denied a charge that it falsely claimed scarves were 100% cashmere in one of its Scottish stores.

The retailer, owned by entrepreneur Philip Day, has been accused of committing the offence on two occasions at its Dumfries store in 2014. 

The trial started at Dumfries Sheriff Court on September 15 but reporting restrictions had prevented publicity, the BBC reported.

Lawyers representing Edinburgh Woollen Mill claimed reporting of the trial could affect witnesses evidence and impact the business.

Susan Duff QC, representing Edinburgh Woollen Mill, said: “The accused has a legitimate concern about its business and employees. Now is the busiest time of year for the purchase of cashmere.”

However, Sheriff George Jamieson agreed to overturn the order he had previously made, after arguments by the BBC and ITV.

The case is being brought after a trading standards officer purchased a blue tartan scarf in February 2014, and a red one four months later, the BBC reported.

Both scarves were reduced to £30 from £60 and were labelled as 100% Lochmere cashmere, the court heard.

The trading standards officer Alison Irving later cut the scarves into pieces, bagged and sealed them and sent them off to be analysed at test labs. After reports back from the labs, Irving said she sent a letter in August 2014 cautioning Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

She claimed she notified the business that one scarf had been found to contain 84.4% cashmere, while the other was found to have 61.6% cashmere.

Under cross-examination Irving reportedly said it was “odd” the results received back from each of the labs had  differed from each other.

However, Edinburgh Woollen Mill sent back results from another test lab showing that both scarves were found to be 100% cashmere.

Textile analyst Liqin Zhang gave evidence saying she identified wool and yak in the scarf samples.

Duff told Zhang that Edinburgh Woollen Mill had sent a DNA-tested 100% cashmere sample for her to analyse in August this year.

The lawyer said the fabric had been subject to the same processes and dyed the same colour as the red scarf sample previously tested.

Duff told Zhang: “You identified that 100% cashmere sample as 85% cashmere and 15% unidentifiable fibres.

“The issue is with your identification and not with the product, isn’t it?” Zhang replied: “If the fibre structure is damaged I have to report it as unidentifiable, I can’t just guess.”

Duff added: “You couldn’t identify fibres that were 100% cashmere, that’s down to your ability?” Zhang replied: “That’s my decision on what my observation is. I’m not saying I’m perfect.”

The alleged offences are being brought under the Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012.

The case continues.