‘Because we can!’
This apt quote from Othello must sum up just how Kilkenny publican Charlie Malzard feels on being vindicated in the Circuit Court recently over a ‘diluted vodka’ case taken by a somewhat cavalier National Consumer Agency.
The quote was supplied to me by Charlie’s son, Fred. Reputation in business, as in life, is everything – and this swings both ways.
The NCA’s already low standing with the licensed trade only descended still further with the latest episode in ignominy from the Agency.
The case involved it’s finding that a sample taken from Malzard’s Stoneyford pub was not of the requisite alcohol strength – a finding that was strenuously denied by Charlie through independent analysis of the same sample.
The warning bells should have sounded for the NCA when independent analysis contravened its original finding but the Agency sailed blithely on, adding insult to injury by maintaining Malzards in a negative light on its website simply because it could, because it had the Government-backed power to do so….
The cravenness and niggardliness of a large organisation’s being able to bully an independent business in this way was only added to when – late in life – the NCA informed the Malzards that it would not be contesting last month’s appeal.
For how long had it known that its sample findings were not safe before deciding to withdraw from the case?
The Agency’s alacrity in publishing the bad news about Malzard’s was only matched by the sluggardliness with which it removed the pub from its ‘name & shame’ section on its website.
When a large Government-backed organisation such as the NCA displays it’s diminutive stature through such bullying tactics, it’s not only disappointing – but alarming.
The VFI has now called on the NCA “to give s
imilar prominence and time to the new situation as they gave to the original findings”.
The NCA’s integrity going forward will be measured by the amount and the extent to which it lives up to this challenge.