Morrisons has launched legal action against the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), accusing it of libel, which could result in a multimillion pound claim for damages.
The grocer says the competition watchdog wrongly named it in a statement last September, in relation to aspects of an investigation into milk price-fixing, TheMail on Sunday reported.
According to a submission to the High Court, which provided brief details of the claim, the offending statement was removed “on or about” December 3.
The OFT issued a clarification of its statement days later, in which it said Morrisons colluded to increase the retail price of milk in 2002 only. It also said that the OFT’s provisional findings did not allege that the supermarket chain had been warned that its conduct might be anti-competitive.
However, Morrisons is suing the OFT because of the damage to its reputation, which was a “direct, intended and foreseeable consequence of publication” of statement.
In the submission, dated January 10, Morrisons lists more than 50 items of coverage in TV, radio, print and newswire articles. Headlines of the articles listed include: “The Great Milk Robbery” and “Milked – Big Four supermarkets conspired to make customers pay over the odds for butter, milk and cheese”.