09:34 Friday 03 January 2014

Prime minister to look at claims over pub firm

Written byROB SMYTH

A BURTON-based pub giant has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to refute accusations made against them by an MP during a debate in the House of Commons.

Bosses from Punch Taverns, based in Centrum 100, were forced to act after MP Greg Mulholland accused the firm of ‘clear market manipulation’ as he claimed the firm had been overcharging pubgoers for beer over the last 10 years in their pubs.

The prime minister said he would ‘look very carefully’ at the claim that drinkers had paid £4.3bn more than they should have done at Punch Taverns pubs.

Andy Slee, central operations director for Punch Taverns, said: “This is the latest in a series of wild accusations from an MP who is intent doing damage to an industry that is on the road to recovery.

“There is no truth to what Mr Mulholland says, as there is no legitimate industry source for the type of data he has quoted to the House. We challenge him to produce robust and independent evidence.

“We do not hide from the fact that we make profit from owning and running pubs.

“The serious charge of overcharging consumers is groundless and contrary to the facts.”

Mr Mulholland, chairman of the all-party save the pub group, said: “New figures show that Punch in their pubs overcharged the British consumer on beer alone by £4.3 billion over 10 years.”

Mr Cameron said: “I know of Mr Mulholland’s long-standing interest in how pub landlords are treated particularly in the pub companies.

“Let me look very carefully at what he has said as I’m a great believer in a healthy pub industry.”

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