DEFRA faces a legal challenge over its decision to allow meat and fish traders at New Covent Garden Market.

The judicial review, expected to begin this month, was called for by the Corporation of London, landlords for Smithfield and Billingsgate markets. Both are protected by charters which prevent competitive wholesale trading within six and two-thirds of a mile.

The decision to allow meat and fish traders at New Covent Garden follows a recommendation in the Saphir
report that Billingsgate and Smithfield tenants should be rehoused at either New Spitalfields market, Leyton, New Covent Garden, Vauxhall, or Western International, Hayes.

Daniel Caspi, chairman of the Corporation Markets' Committee, said the action was regrettable and would delay dialogue about the future of the London wholesale markets.

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