Police in London have confirmed the arrest of two men on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud over Britain’s horse-meat contamination scandal.
The City of London Police gave the update on their investigation on Thursday, revealing the arrests dated back to May.
It followed recent criticism by British MPs over the slow pace of national inquiries into the scandal, with no prosecutions six months after the contamination was first revealed.
The discovery of horse meat in a range of processed beef products was first highlighted in Ireland. The scandal rapidly spread across Europe and resulted in the recall of tens of millions of ready-made meals and related products.
The investigation across Europe highlighted the complexities of the food chain and its vulnerability to rogue traders.
London police said they had been asked to support Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) with its inquiry into how products became adulterated with horse meat.
Using its National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the force was initially asked to review all evidence collected by law enforcement agencies in Britain and Europe, as well as from the FSA’s own regulatory activity.
As a result, a police probe was launched in May and during the initial stages of inquiries, detectives arrested two men on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.
They interviewed two other men under caution.
Additionally, several search warrants were executed at businesses and home addresses around Britain.
“This is an extremely complex investigation covering a number of jurisdictions and a variety of businesses,” Detective Chief Superintendent Oliver Shaw, from the City of London Police, said.
“We are working closely with police forces, other law enforcement agencies and regulators to determine whether horse meat being used in a range of meat products was deliberate and coordinated criminal activity.”