Recent comments on the independent sector by Paul Kelly, external affairs director at Asda, at a Westminster forum are breathtaking in their arrogance.

I assume this is a pre-emptive strike in advance of World Cup activity, but the advice in The Gospel According to John, 8:7 - ‘let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’ - has never seemed more apt.

Not only is Asda part of the Walmart group, which is hardly a paragon of virtue or morality by many accounts, it is also part of the oligopoly of the big four supermarkets, which for the past 20 years have relentlessly and cynically used alcohol at key trading times to drive footfall, selling it at prices way below the cost price accessible to the largest independent wholesalers and retailer.

We are constantly told by brand owners that these prices are below cost and it seems likely that in some cases this is true.

There are so many examples of these predatory practices that it would take the whole page to list even a handful of them, but the notorious occasions when beer was being sold for less than water in Asda stores is surely example enough.

These promotions sell alcohol at irresponsibly low prices while simultaneously forcing the consumer to upweight their purchase of alcohol to achieve them. It is a proven fact that product availability in the home is a driver of higher consumption of alcohol.

” The idea c-stores could ever hope to be 30% cheaper is laughable”

Despite this, Kelly was insisting that “the convenience sector is a good place to start when you’re looking at this problem” because (and here an alert for a gross and unwarranted generalisation): “high-strength products are sold by the sector … at a price 30% cheaper than … supermarkets.”

The idea that legitimate convenience stores could ever hope to be 30% cheaper than supermarkets is laughable.

And the supposed preponderance of “high-strength product” was hardly borne out by the Asda-supplied photo that was used to illustrate the point, featuring as it did such mainstream products as Beck’s, Guinness, Grolsch and McEwan’s Export, together with several premium bottled ales. Such lines are hardly the drinks cabinet of choice for local down-and-outs.

Indeed the one fact to be drawn from the picture is that independents have recognised that not everyone wants to be bounced into massive purchases at one time and have exploited an opportunity to be different.

It will be instructive to see just how responsible Asda is when it comes to alcohol promotions at the time of the World Cup. However, I know what I believe will happen.

Steve Parfett is chairman of AG Parfett & Sons