John Fingleton, chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading, has said that he would be prepared to see suppliers go out of business to protect consumers.

“It is not good for consumers to protect the suppliers - and our job is to protect consumers,” Fingleton said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.

He added: “It would be ridiculous to keep prices artificially high to placate suppliers. There are always winners and losers. If one company goes out of business, there will soon be another to take its place.”