Scottish dairies have reacted with a mixture of relief and anger after the OFT finally dropped its case over alleged price fixing. The investigation included six Scottish dairies – Ballantyne, Grahams, Quothquan, Renfrew, Scottish Milk Dairies and Robert Wiseman – who were suspected of engaging in price fixing and/or market sharing between 2000 and 2003. However, the OFT last week closed its case with no charges made.

The lengthy investigation had caused investment at Graham’s The Family Dairy to be put on hold, said the company’s MD Robert Graham. He also criticised the OFT for costing the company more than £500,000 in non-recoverable legal fees, but said the dairy company would now push ahead with a £1m investment programme in 2009 to be spent on NPD and developing the Bridge of Allan-based farm. A senior figure at another Scottish dairy, who did not wish to be named, said the company had felt “anger and a sense of injustice” that the investigation had been allowed to happen in the first place.

“Our view was that there was no case to answer,” he said. A spokesman for Robert Wiseman said: “We welcome this decision. It vindicates the position we always maintained that this case should be closed. Far from slowing us down, it’s galvanised us as a management team to move forward with determination.” In its judgement, the OFT said it did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to an infringement decision.

“The OFT has decided that continuing with the investigation would not be an appropriate use of resources,” it added. It originally launched the investigation in 2000 after complaints from Express Dairies, now owned by Arla Foods. The Government department closed the investigation in 2002, but reopened it in 2006 when Express appealed.

The Scottish investigation was unconnected to the nationwide OFT case that led to multimillion pound fines being handed out to a number of retailers and processors.