British Sugar, Napier Brown and Tate & Lyle have failed to persuade the European Court of Justice to lift heavy fines imposed by the European Commission in 1998 over allegations of illegal concerted practice and agreements over sugar prices.

Although judges reduced the fines payable by Tate& Lyle from €7m to €5.6m, they refused to amend the €39.6m (set at the time in ECUs’) set for British Sugar and the €1.8m for Napier Brown. The practices objected to by the Commission included alleged meetings between Tate & Lyle and British Sugar to discuss retail sugar prices and the passing of price tables by British Sugar before their official release into circulation.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent