Court case abpout OTC

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

Into the lions den 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
774
Location
Various
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
>4000
Please find attached below our actual press release after the recent court case with concluded today.

Please note that, having plead guilty some weeks ago, that the circumstances were taken into account and I was fined on two technical matters. Obtaining and holding a supply of OTC without the relevant licences to do so, but was not penalised for its actual use.

Before any response is posted please read the full release. I have seen a number of 'holier than thou' comments, although its been almost universally supportive from the bee trade both amateur and professional alike.

I have spoken to Hivemaker about posting this, and of course this is for information only and nothing in the post in any way is to be taken as the opinion of those who run the forum.

.................................................................................

Denrosa Apiaries
Victoria Street, Coupar Angus, Perthshire, PH13 9AE, UK
Mobile 07736 115559
e-mail [email protected]

Bee Farmers and Honey Suppliers


Denrosa, 1st February 2017

PRESS RELEASE

Over recent months we have been going through a legal process concerning the useage of oxytetracycline for the treatment of European Foulbrood in our bees during the late summer of 2009.

Earlier that summer an outbreak of European Foulbrood (henceforth referred to as EFB), rarely seen in Scotland prior to this, was diagnosed, initially in our bees in co-operation with a locally based bee inspector, for which the Scottish bee industry and the Scottish government were completely unprepared. Upon fuller investigation it was found to already be a deep seated and widely distributed problem in much of the professional sector in eastern Scotland. That it was first discovered in our bees has no bearing on the source, which remains unknown. The outbreak had the potential to decimate the bee industry.

There was no full time government inspection service and no preparedness in place for such an unanticipated event, but the Scottish government quickly put together a team from a standing start to address the problem. This was all done with the full co-operation of the bee industry as this was a huge crisis and required all to be pulling together to prevent the destruction of the professional bee sector and probable eventual spread into all sectors.

At all times during this event we played a leading role in this co-operation, and assisted in the government in development of a plan to contain the spread of the disease and to provide temporary medically aided protection pending a proper assessment, in anticipation it would take until spring 2010 for a full assessment of colonies to be undertaken. The problem was so large, and the state of preparedness so poor, that it was impossible to deal with it all in the relatively brief window that was available to us in 2009. (In explanation, July and August are months when heather honey is being produced. It is crucial that no antibiotic is applied to bees at that time to prevent it entering the human food chain, so treatment could only be done in September and October, before winter conditions set in and the bees cannot be effectively treated or even diagnosed.)

The options available were destruction of symptomatic colonies, or treatment with oxytetracycline to keep it under control until the situation was clearer. (Shook swarming is another option but in Sept and Oct it is not a practical choice.)

The National Bee Unit website also specifies oxytetracycline, in the formulation Terramycin, as the medical treatment for control of EFB.

From the moment it was agreed that a full programme of oxytetracycline treatment would be applied we had concerns about timing. The medication was to be provided through the government inspectorate, who were doing their absolute best, but their team was still acquiring expertise and we had a fear the supply would be delayed. So, with it being agreed that oxytetracycline would be used for temporary protection during the outbreak, we took the step of ordering in a private supply, for use in the event the official supply would be delayed. (The practicalities of performing three treatments per colony, which is the correct way it is done, on the largest bee farm in the UK, meant we needed the full 8 week window to do it.) If we had NOT ordered it, and the official supply was delayed, we would have faced the possible loss of most of our bees. It would be too late to do anything about it once the delay was actually happening, so it was ordered, initially as a precaution. We ordered the correct recommended product, but did so without going through all the proper protocols. We had already had to burn 169 colonies of our bees, the problem was spreading rapidly, and had to do our very best to save the rest. To NOT be prepared for such an eventuality would have been a dereliction of my duty to protect the bees.

The product sourced was Terramycin, which is a brand name for oxytetracycline.

This was not a secret, it was widely known we had done this, and we were at all times open about it.
By September the official supply had not appeared, and so we initiated our treatment using the privately sourced product, mixed and administered at exactly the same strength and dosage and in the identical manner to the agreed method for the supplied product, on which we all received official training.

As soon as the official supply arrived (part way through September) we moved over to that product and never used the private product again.

This was an officially sanctioned treatment using oxytetracycline, a recommended treatment for EFB. What we used was no different.

Despite press reports to the contrary this is NOT a banned medication. The status is rather that it does not have a specific approval for general use on bees but CAN be used for EFB if prescribed. Oxytetracycline WAS prescribed for this case.

Mr McGregor plead guilty to the offence of importing (from the USA) a supply of Terramycin, to possessing it for a period of time, and to using it for the initial part of the treatment programme, all without a proper licence to source the product. This much is not something we seek to deny and were completely open about it at all times and gave those investigating the matter all the information they asked for.

At no time did any OTC enter the food chain. All our honey is tested multiple times and there has never been a problem with anything we have supplied, despite misleading initial press reports.

There are also reports describing Mr. McGregor as the ‘Royal beekeeper’. This is not the case. He has never been such a person. He was fortunate enough to have the privilege of being allowed to place hives on Royal estates from the mid 1980s onwards. At no time has he ever described himself as the Royal beekeeper and indeed it is completely inaccurate to do so. He sincerely hopes the erroneous reporting has not caused embarrassment to the Royal family or anyone connected with it.


We would like to conclude by putting on record our gratitude and appreciation for the effort that all those on the official side in Scotland have made to help see the industry through these critical years. From Cabinet secretary downwards to the field inspectorate we have had nothing but help and support. Appreciation also to the brilliant team at SASA for the rapid way they adapted to the wave of samples that headed their way. We also would like to thank my colleagues elsewhere in the UK for their *universal* support, and to the Bee Farmers Association for all their help, and to the many non-Scottish bee inspectors and former bee inspectors who have been good friends and offered formal and informal support through this whole event.


Murray McGregor
 
Last edited:

Into the lions den 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
774
Location
Various
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
>4000
Sorry about the typo in the thread title....huge amount of correspondence tonight....too much haste.
 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
24,766
Reaction score
6,194
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
13
Thanks for that ITLD
So much rubbish about this on Facebook with people posting stupid comments without having a clue what was going on. So relieved for you.
 

Into the lions den 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
774
Location
Various
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
>4000
Thanks for that ITLD
So much rubbish about this on Facebook with people posting stupid comments without having a clue what was going on. So relieved for you.
I do not go on Facebook....and glad I do not. The willfully ignorant yet utterly righteous keyboard critics would drive me nuts.

The actual facts of the matter are a country mile from the initial media activity, to which the keyboard beekeepers respond.

I always said I would post the facts of the matter once it was all done and dusted. No doubt lots of them will think we should have burned everything and gone on benefits...all 11 of us.

However, all direct feedback has been highly supportive.
 

Into the lions den 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
774
Location
Various
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
>4000
Glad it's over. You didn't say how much the penalty was but hopefully only a token sum.
A total of £2500....just about the absolute minimum possible under this. might seem a lot, but its £1 per hive........puts it in perspective against losing a lot more colonies.

Neither unhappy....nor happy....at the outcome.
 

chrisb 

Field Bee
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
566
Reaction score
0
Location
southport
Hive Type
langstroth
I have seen things about this but personally chose to ignore them as I believed there was a great deal of unfairness.
I would have shaken your hand for using that rare thing these days " common sense "
my hat of to you sir :)
 

Quis Custodiet 

Field Bee
Joined
Nov 22, 2014
Messages
716
Reaction score
0
Location
Ireland
Hive Type
commercial
Thank you for posting ITLD. Glad the matter is concluded, in my opinion you were guilty of nothing, but a victim of bureaucracy. The best of luck in your endeavours.
 

charlievictorbravo 

Drone Bee
Joined
Jul 31, 2012
Messages
1,801
Reaction score
75
Location
Torpoint, Cornwall
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
2 - 14x12
The report on the BBC makes it clear that the £2500 fine was not because ITLD broke the regs but that other people would not break the regs - in other words, the sheriff intended to make an example of him.

Beekeepers on this forum have seen crowdfunding abused but if ever there was justification for using it, this is it.

Does anybody know how to set up a crowdfunding appeal to help ITLD - £2500 is a big hit for a small privately-owned firm.

CVB
 

SDM 

Banned
Joined
Oct 25, 2016
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
1
Location
N.Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
100 ish
I suppose this is as close to a sensible/reasonable outcome as you could have hoped for once the matter became official. Sadly , Justice is never the priority of a legal system.
I'm very pleased you can at least consider the matter put to bed now.
 

Icing Sugar 

New Bee
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
Messages
73
Reaction score
0
Location
UK
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6
I am pleased for you that you can put it behind you now. All the very best for the future.
 

Walrus 

Field Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 1, 2012
Messages
871
Reaction score
2
Thanks ITLD for the info. Glad this is over for you.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

BKF Admin 

Queen Bee
Beekeeping Sponsor
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
6,344
Reaction score
5
Location
Hampshire uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6
Did you incure any legal costs Murray ?
 

AndyTh 

House Bee
Joined
Feb 10, 2010
Messages
107
Reaction score
12
Location
Worcestershire
Hive Type
commercial
Number of Hives
8
Please find attached below our actual press release after the recent court case with concluded today.

Please note that, having plead guilty some weeks ago, that the circumstances were taken into account and I was fined on two technical matters. Obtaining and holding a supply of OTC without the relevant licences to do so, but was not penalised for its actual use.

Before any response is posted please read the full release. I have seen a number of 'holier than thou' comments, although its been almost universally supportive from the bee trade both amateur and professional alike.

I have spoken to Hivemaker about posting this, and of course this is for information only and nothing in the post in any way is to be taken as the opinion of those who run the forum.

.................................................................................

Denrosa Apiaries
Victoria Street, Coupar Angus, Perthshire, PH13 9AE, UK
Mobile 07736 115559
e-mail [email protected]

Bee Farmers and Honey Suppliers


Denrosa, 1st February 2017

PRESS RELEASE

Over recent months we have been going through a legal process concerning the useage of oxytetracycline for the treatment of European Foulbrood in our bees during the late summer of 2009.

Earlier that summer an outbreak of European Foulbrood (henceforth referred to as EFB), rarely seen in Scotland prior to this, was diagnosed, initially in our bees in co-operation with a locally based bee inspector, for which the Scottish bee industry and the Scottish government were completely unprepared. Upon fuller investigation it was found to already be a deep seated and widely distributed problem in much of the professional sector in eastern Scotland. That it was first discovered in our bees has no bearing on the source, which remains unknown. The outbreak had the potential to decimate the bee industry.

There was no full time government inspection service and no preparedness in place for such an unanticipated event, but the Scottish government quickly put together a team from a standing start to address the problem. This was all done with the full co-operation of the bee industry as this was a huge crisis and required all to be pulling together to prevent the destruction of the professional bee sector and probable eventual spread into all sectors.

At all times during this event we played a leading role in this co-operation, and assisted in the government in development of a plan to contain the spread of the disease and to provide temporary medically aided protection pending a proper assessment, in anticipation it would take until spring 2010 for a full assessment of colonies to be undertaken. The problem was so large, and the state of preparedness so poor, that it was impossible to deal with it all in the relatively brief window that was available to us in 2009. (In explanation, July and August are months when heather honey is being produced. It is crucial that no antibiotic is applied to bees at that time to prevent it entering the human food chain, so treatment could only be done in September and October, before winter conditions set in and the bees cannot be effectively treated or even diagnosed.)

The options available were destruction of symptomatic colonies, or treatment with oxytetracycline to keep it under control until the situation was clearer. (Shook swarming is another option but in Sept and Oct it is not a practical choice.)

The National Bee Unit website also specifies oxytetracycline, in the formulation Terramycin, as the medical treatment for control of EFB.

From the moment it was agreed that a full programme of oxytetracycline treatment would be applied we had concerns about timing. The medication was to be provided through the government inspectorate, who were doing their absolute best, but their team was still acquiring expertise and we had a fear the supply would be delayed. So, with it being agreed that oxytetracycline would be used for temporary protection during the outbreak, we took the step of ordering in a private supply, for use in the event the official supply would be delayed. (The practicalities of performing three treatments per colony, which is the correct way it is done, on the largest bee farm in the UK, meant we needed the full 8 week window to do it.) If we had NOT ordered it, and the official supply was delayed, we would have faced the possible loss of most of our bees. It would be too late to do anything about it once the delay was actually happening, so it was ordered, initially as a precaution. We ordered the correct recommended product, but did so without going through all the proper protocols. We had already had to burn 169 colonies of our bees, the problem was spreading rapidly, and had to do our very best to save the rest. To NOT be prepared for such an eventuality would have been a dereliction of my duty to protect the bees.

The product sourced was Terramycin, which is a brand name for oxytetracycline.

This was not a secret, it was widely known we had done this, and we were at all times open about it.
By September the official supply had not appeared, and so we initiated our treatment using the privately sourced product, mixed and administered at exactly the same strength and dosage and in the identical manner to the agreed method for the supplied product, on which we all received official training.

As soon as the official supply arrived (part way through September) we moved over to that product and never used the private product again.

This was an officially sanctioned treatment using oxytetracycline, a recommended treatment for EFB. What we used was no different.

Despite press reports to the contrary this is NOT a banned medication. The status is rather that it does not have a specific approval for general use on bees but CAN be used for EFB if prescribed. Oxytetracycline WAS prescribed for this case.

Mr McGregor plead guilty to the offence of importing (from the USA) a supply of Terramycin, to possessing it for a period of time, and to using it for the initial part of the treatment programme, all without a proper licence to source the product. This much is not something we seek to deny and were completely open about it at all times and gave those investigating the matter all the information they asked for.

At no time did any OTC enter the food chain. All our honey is tested multiple times and there has never been a problem with anything we have supplied, despite misleading initial press reports.

There are also reports describing Mr. McGregor as the ‘Royal beekeeper’. This is not the case. He has never been such a person. He was fortunate enough to have the privilege of being allowed to place hives on Royal estates from the mid 1980s onwards. At no time has he ever described himself as the Royal beekeeper and indeed it is completely inaccurate to do so. He sincerely hopes the erroneous reporting has not caused embarrassment to the Royal family or anyone connected with it.


We would like to conclude by putting on record our gratitude and appreciation for the effort that all those on the official side in Scotland have made to help see the industry through these critical years. From Cabinet secretary downwards to the field inspectorate we have had nothing but help and support. Appreciation also to the brilliant team at SASA for the rapid way they adapted to the wave of samples that headed their way. We also would like to thank my colleagues elsewhere in the UK for their *universal* support, and to the Bee Farmers Association for all their help, and to the many non-Scottish bee inspectors and former bee inspectors who have been good friends and offered formal and informal support through this whole event.


Murray McGregor
ITLD, your press release is very clear; thank you for posting it. One observation if I may. To be charged in the first place, surely there has to be a reasonable chance of successful prosecution and the case has to be "in the public interest". I can't see how bringing this case meets the public interest criteria, given the unpreparedness of the very agency which prescribed, but had no adequate process to deliver what they prescribed, namely OTC, the licences and/or help administering to your 2500 hives in a way that protected the bees. Bringing the case would only serve to show how the agency placed your company between a rock (EFB that needed urgent treatment to minimise colony losses) and a hard place (law and regulation that that placed obligation on you, that was unreasonable in the circumstances as you couldn't comply without consequent delay in treatment and loss). You were unable to discharge your lawful duty to look after the health and welfare of your bees, because of delays in obtaining sufficient quantities of medicine through the channels that the law said, you had to use.
No public interest argument exists for bringing this case in my opinion. If so, the judge should have picked this up and included it in his/her reasoning and thrown out the case, with a recommendation that existing law should be amended. My observations only, just a layman's view.

I'm glad you can now move on and I wish you well.

Andy
 

derekm 

Queen Bee
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Messages
6,150
Reaction score
140
Location
xyz
Hive Type
national
Faced with a dilemma of obeying the letter of the law and losing many many bees, or obeying the spirit of the law and saving them.

Luckily only fined ~ a jar of honey per hive.

All the best murray
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2010
Messages
12,502
Reaction score
28
Location
South West
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Miriads
I would have done the same thing Murray. Glad it's over for you.
Your responsibility is towards your bees..... why on Earth the "authorities" dragged their feet in assisting you through a tough beekeeping period beggars belief.

OK only a "Token" fine.... what message is that sending out to beekeepers in the UK ?

Mytten da
 

Into the lions den 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
774
Location
Various
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
>4000
Did you incure any legal costs Murray ?
Not yet clear how much this will be, but substantial.

At the outset we employed a Counsel (Scottish term for a barrister I think) to review the case, and that cost several hundred pounds.

My local lawyer then acted for me on the basis of the advice received, and I do not have his bill yet. I will be sitting down when I open it!!!

Due in part to paperwork on the other side, we ended up in court five times, and this could be close on 1000 per day, just to be sent home because the other sided did not have their paperwork ready, and the DEFRA investigations side erected 'straw man' matters quite late in the process which had to be dealt with. they had a neat little habit of springing these things on us the night before a court appearance or even minutes before in one case. The very first hearing the delay was down to my side...we got far less than a weeks notice this was happening and had to get a continuation without plea to gather ourselves after the initial WTF reaction. In the end the outcome was a negotiated conclusion, but the fines level could not be decided in advance, this is a matter for the Sherriff.

So.... not expecting to see a legal bill a great deal under 5K.

Bummer... but c'est la vie....life goes on and the new season is not far away, and I resumed posting photos etc on twitter a couple of weeks ago to show folk just that. This matter will not kill us, its all a historical issue not especially relevant in todays situations, and in the end is going to prove just a little bump in the road.

They do not seem to appreciate that this has damaged relationships with many beekeepers who will view every apparently innocent sampling exercise with suspicion. The support I have been getting is amazing. I cannot begin to express how moved I was that someone who only knows me through this medium could suggest crowd funding my case. Restores your faith in human nature.

I will, over the next week or two, write a full article in far more detail than the press release, and after it has gone to the Bee Farmer mag will be available to all of the bee press to use. There is much to tell that will be a cautionary tale to others, and also show where the severe shortcomings of the investigation lay. For another thread, but a thing that caused me big issues, that will be of critical interest to many who might face random broodnest sampling is 'What is in your wax?'
 

Into the lions den 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
774
Location
Various
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
>4000
Your responsibility is towards your bees..... why on Earth the "authorities" dragged their feet in assisting you through a tough beekeeping period beggars belief.

OK only a "Token" fine.... what message is that sending out to beekeepers in the UK ?

Mytten da
They did not really drag their feet. They did their best, but government 'process', when everyone has to mind their backs in todays climate, is liable to be like watching treacle flow. In the end they got it to us faster than I actually expected. I would have been angered, but not shocked, if it did not make it to us until after the window for application had completely gone.

I actually have nothing but praise for the Scottish response, especially given the position they were in at the outset. At the time our local bee inspector was not really that. He was the man who did all the narcissi among other crops, and the bees were just another file that was dropped on his desk. He is a good man however, and was always very helpful and friendly....as it should be if we are to build a healthy industry with mutual trust.
 
Last edited:

mbc 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Messages
6,261
Reaction score
973
Location
bestest wales
Hive Type
national
It's never the foot soldiers fault, rather some pole climber further up trying to smell of roses.
Well done on a reasonable outcome but commiserations it went that far, I'd be up for the crowd funding thing if anyone 's got the techie knowledge to set it up.
 
Top