Horse shaped meat

A businessman mixed horsemeat with beef to sell on to supermarkets across Britain, Southwark Crown Court heard on Thursday.

Andronicos Sideras, 55, was allegedly part of a ring of dealers who conspired to sell the contaminated meat concoction from January to November 2012.

His co-conspirators Ulrik Nielsen, 58, of Gentofte, Denmark, and his right-hand-man Alex Beech, 44, of Highfield Close, Hull, admitted a single count each of conspiring to defraud last year.

But Sideras denied any involvement in the scam and insisted he had no idea how horsemeat could have ended up in the consignments he sold.

Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay said: “This case is about lying to people and deceiving people so as to make money - or, to be precise, for people to make more money.

“Like most, if not all, offences of dishonesty, it was motivated by greed.

“It was apparent that for the fraud to work, it needed someone to carry out the physical mixing of the meats.

“It needed someone to make them look genuine - that key role was taken by Mr Sideras.

“There is no dispute that this fraud was going on - the sole question you are going to need to decide is whether Mr Sideras was involved in it.”

Mr Polnay, who described the meat hybrid as ‘horsebeef’, explained Nielsen and Beech ran a Danish company called FlexiFoods that bought meat from suppliers across Europe.

They had the horsemeat delivered to Sideras’ Tottenham-based meat company and sausage manufacturer, Dinos & Sons, where it would be mixed in with beef, packaged and labelled.

The defendant then sold the ‘horsebeef’ on to a trader based in the Republic of Ireland, who then sold it on to large production companies, which supplied many well-known stores.

While a kilogram of beef sold for about €3 (£2.60) in 2012, horsemeat was just €2 (£1.75) per kg.

The contamination of beef and other meats with horsemeat came to light in 2013, with major supermarket chains such as Tesco, Asda and the Co-op all affected by the scandal.

A joint probe carried out by City of London Police, the Food Standards Agency and the CPS has taken just over three years to complete.

The FSA instructed more than 2,500 tests to be carried out in Britain as a result of the scandal, which found some products contained up to 100% horsemeat.

Sideras, of Friars Walk, Southgate, north London, denies one count of conspiracy to defraud.

The trial continues.