Farce as price fixing case against BA marketing execs collapses

It only took the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service four years to discover, in court today, that they had ‘no evidence’ to offer against four British Airways marketing executives on price-fixing charges.

BA’s current head of sales Martin Crawley and former commercial director Martin George, former communications head Iain Burns (who both resigned) and Irish Republic sales chief Alan Ryan (retired) were all accused of colluding with Virgin to fix fuel surcharge prices between 2004 and 2006.

But after an email was discovered showing that Virgin had increased its fuel surcharge without ‘consulting’ BA the case promptly collapsed.

Will BA’s combative CEO Willie Walsh say “never mind chaps, glad that’s all over and done with.”

Well he might not. Because the alleged price fixing only came to light after Virgin blew the whistle. Consequently Virgin was not charged. But it’s also interesting that Virgin thought something was up.

So there clearly was something that Virgin thought might be evidence even though the prosecutor Richard Latham QC decided there wasn’t.

Now Walsh could decide to go after Virgin for costing his airline time and money and forcing an abrupt end to the careers of two important executives.

Or he could decide to let sleeping dogs lie of course.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.