Sarah Regan secures suspended sentence for chicken farmer in free-range egg fraud

James Gigg, a poultry farmer running a family farm in Dorset, was charged with fraud and two offences under the Eggs and Chicks Regulations resulting from overstocking. A change in the EU Regulations in 2012 meant that the number of birds he could lawfully house to enable the eggs to be sold as free range was reduced from 12 per square metre to nine. An examination of documentation by inspectors in 2016 showed that he had been supplied with 14,000 birds, an overstock of 3,500 and that he had sold 289,000 dozen eggs for a estimated value of £230,000.

Sentencing him, HHJ Cook said that the general public were cheated because they buy free-range eggs out of a principle and they make sacrifices to stick to those principles. However, he accepted that Mr Gigg was a man of previous good character and a hard working farmer who was struggling to makes ends meet. He had not committed the fraud out of greed but that having no siblings meant that burden of keeping the farm going rested with him alone. Those factors enabled the judge to suspend the 12 month custodial term for 18 months. He also accepted Sarah Regan’s invitation that he sentence the regulatory offences under the umbrella of the fraud charge, and passed no separate penalty in respect of both offences nor did he make an order for costs.


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