The £116m of fines meted out by the OFT to Asda, Sainsbury's, Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman last Friday came too late to be included in Saturday's issue, but this story, already five years old, is far from over. And right now, save for a few very senior executives, we are all in the dark. That's because other retailers and suppliers are still being investigated. And the law says any party who reveals any detail of the OFT's so-called 'statement of objections' - ie the evidence it has -could be committing a criminal offence. What we know, simply, is that Asda, Sainsbury's and those suppliers have been fixing prices. But whether the price hikes were passed on to the farmers, as they have maintained all along, will not be known until the case is completely closed - if at all. It is a red herring anyway, the most interesting facts surrounding the evidence itself, and whether the accused parties had any idea of their guilt until the OFT presented them with the evidence. Some experts are now suggesting this fine is bad news for farmers, and indeed suppliers in general. The sympathy vote simply will not wash in negotiations. But this will have unintended consequences for the government too. Now, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls on the industry - for the sake of the environment - to lower the price of energy-saving lightbulbs, or charge for plastic carrier bags; or, if he personally intervenes, as he did this summer at the time of the foot and mouth outbreak, urging the multiples to go easy on the farmers; or if the supermarkets receive the countless other requests for unilateral action they get every week from naive ministers, MPs, lobby groups etc, the buyers will politely, but firmly, decline.