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British Airways price-fixing trial collapses

Dramatic events were in evidence at Southwark Crown Court today as the much heralded British Airways and Virgin Atlantic price-fixing case returned to court. It was revealed on Friday that the prosecution had failed to pass on up to one year's worth of e-mails to the defence team which had been collated during the investigation. As a consequence the judge questioned the validity of the case on Friday although he left it open at the weekend for the prosecution to consider in more detail.

The prosecution team came back this morning to offer "no evidence" amid suggestions that cross examination of various Virgin Atlantic employees would have brought the case down. Indeed it was claimed that Virgin Atlantic had already decided to increase its own fuel surcharge before talks were instigated with British Airways. This is a massive blow for the Office of Fair Trading and after weeks of positive press comment a case which many believed was "open and shut" has now collapsed. Whether we will see any repercussions from British Airways with regards to potential legal action remains to be seen but this is certain to impact on future cases of a similar nature. After a relatively long run of successful prosecutions the Office of Fair Trading is today licking its wounds.

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