Beef-on-bone back on menu

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A council is to press ahead with its prosecution of licensee Alan Coomber despite the lifting of the beef-on-the-bone ban. The ban was lifted by...

A council is to press ahead with its prosecution of licensee Alan Coomber despite the lifting of the beef-on-the-bone ban.

The ban was lifted by agriculture minister Nick Brown after Westminster and the regional parliaments in Scotland and Wales all approved the findings of a medical study which said the health risk from beef bones was minimal.

Licensees, including Coomber of the Bell Inn in Rye, East Sussex, had hoped that local authorities would drop charges against publicans accused of serving the illegal beef.

But David Edwards, the chief solicitor for Rother District Council, which is bringing the case, said: "We would be extremely surprised if the order to lift the ban is retrospective and therefore it will have no relevance to the Coomber case or other prosecutions."

He added: "It is one thing to say the beef is now safe, but quite another to say it was safe two years ago. A change in the legislation now doesn't mean it wasn't an offence then."

Coomber has continued to serve 18oz T-bone steaks throughout the ban and is pushing for the cases against him and other licensees to be dropped.

He said: "It is brilliant news about the lifting of the ban but it's two years too late. It should never have been brought in in the first place.

"I would now like to see them withdraw these prosecutions. There were so many butchers and pubs selling beef-on-the-bone anyway, and the government never proved there was a link with CJD."

Coomber's case has been adjourned until the outcome of a Scottish test-case against Jim Sutherland, licensee of the Lodge hotel in Carfraemill, Berwickshire.

Sutherland will be challenging the government's right to introduce the ban and is due in court in January.

Pubs will be legally entitled to serve the banned beef again from December 17.

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