May 102010
 

I’ve mentioned before the delightful bit of scandal revealed to us in the form of a prosecution in the UK against four BA executives, charged with unlawfully colluding with Virgin Atlantic to fix fuel-surcharge prices.

The case seemed to be soundly based, because Virgin voluntarily turned itself in and reported the price fixing to Britain’s Office of Fair Trading, in return for which it was generously given immunity from prosecution.

But today the prosecution’s case collapsed and the case was dismissed.  It appears that the OFT, prosecuting, failed to share all the information it had with the defense, and it further appears that the OFT may not have fully studied it themselves.  One item that has now come to light is an apparent example of Virgin increasing its fuel surcharge without prior consultation with BA, suggesting that the collusion was far from universal.

While a single independent act by Virgin wouldn’t seem to rule out other coordinated acts, the withholding of evidence provided grounds for the case to collapse.

Is this a vindication of BA and the four executives charged?  Far from it.  But it does show disappointingly bad handling of the prosecution process, and has allowed for the BA alleged conspirators to walk away free, and to claim the moral high ground, deserved or not.

 More details here.

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