BA price-fixing trial collapses

The trial of four BA executives over price-fixing allegations has collapsed, with the prosecution announcing today it would be offering no evidence.

The dramatic twist in the trial came after it was disclosed that prosecutors had not disclosed key documents to the defence.

The judge had decided on Friday that the Office of Fair Trading’s failure to release the information had not fatally undermined the trial.

But Richard Latham QC, prosecuting on behalf of the OFT, said the prosecution had reconsidered its position over the weekend and decided to offer no evidence.

BA’s former commercial director Martin George, sales and marketing director Andrew Crawley, former head of communications Iain Burns and the now retired former head of UK sales Allan Burnett all denied cartel offences under the Enterprise Act 2002.

The trial had been held up on a number of occasions due to what the judge described as “problems”.

During legal argument on Friday, a year’s worth of emails came to light for the first time at the trial. One of the emails, dated March 21, 2005, indicated Virgin had decided to raise its fuel surcharge to £6, a move that was said to have preceded contact with BA, suggesting no collusion had taken place.

William Boyce QC, defending Burns, said prosecution witnesses were reconstructing the course of events using emails. He claimed that had the existence of this email been made aware to them the prosecution might never have been brought.

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