Shell shocked: Lobster capital braces for Brexit

Live shellfish exporters in England have warned a wave of form-filling, certification and tariffs will hit the industry in 2021.

Traders who sell live crabs and lobsters into the EU expect delays caused by bottlenecks and new rules.

Fisheries remains a problem for post-Brexit trade talks, but even if a deal is done, trading across the Channel will not be as seamless as it is now.

More than 80% of crabs and lobsters from East Yorkshire are sold in Europe.

On a typically blustery morning on Bridlington Harbour the lobster lorry arrives from France.

It makes stops all along the East Yorkshire coast, loading freshly caught lobsters into sea water tanks to transport and sell back on the continent.

Exporting live shellfish to France and Spain will become much more challenging when the UK enters into a new relationship with the European Union from 1st January 2021.

Hundreds of shell fisherman and exporters rely on frictionless trade, so a no deal is their worst-case scenario.

“The cost of everything will rise with all the extra tariffs businesses will have to pay on goods going in both directions,” according to Jo Ackers, the company secretary of one of the largest shellfish wholesalers in Bridlington.

“We are looking at extra tariffs of 8% on lobster and 7.5% on crab with EU countries having similar import tariffs. It is the fishermen and the end of line customers that would get hit with these costs in the long term,” she said.

Ms Ackers runs the Independent Shellfish Cooperative alongside her husband in Bridlington.

The pair act on behalf of 31 vessels, selling their fresh catch of lobsters, crab and whelks for both processing and the live market.

Much of it driven by lorry from harbours in Yorkshire to southern ports like Dover or Plymouth and then onwards to markets on the Mediterranean.

Shellfish receives the highest prices when shipped live to the EU, and so any delays and congestion at the ports will likely hit profits.

Ms Ackers is not only worried about tariffs being slapped on exports, but higher taxes coming the other way too.

She fears the cost of the material the fishermen need to do their work with rise too.

“A lot of rope and twine is made in Portugal, the most popular clothing manufacturer is French and the most popular wellies are made in the Netherlands. The fishermen are therefore faced with the prospect of increasing prices on the goods they buy while the value of their catch is decreasing,” she says.

From Flamborough Head to Spurn Point, the East Yorkshire coast is home to the UK’s largest crab and lobster fishing industry, landing almost £10m worth of shellfish every year.

This is an economic success story in an area that has often struggled. Many working the shellfish boats are veterans of the 1970’s cod wars which finished off the UK trawler fleet.

Any deal brokered by government is only part of the challenge here. Ms Ackers says in the New Year there will be a bureaucratic mountain to climb.

“I think it’s getting more confusing and complicated the closer we get, it’s almost information overload, everybody is trying to tell us what we should be doing, and it quite difficult to sift through it all,’ said Ms Ackers.

Some of the new requirements for live shellfish exports from 1st January 2021 include an export animal health certificate that must be signed by a fish health inspector who will need at least five working days notice.

It’s an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the country it’s destined for.

The importer must then notify an EU Border Control Point. Shellfish must be then checked at a Border control point and UK Customs forms should also be completed.

With just two weeks until this new system begins, frustration is building 300 miles south in Devon amongst the south west fishing fleet.

Beshlie Pool, the Executive Officer of South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen’s Association, warns the logistical challenges ahead are ‘very significant and concerning.’

The association has 75 shellfish boats that land around £5m worth of crab and lobsters at the ports of Salcombe and Dartmouth every year, and like Bridlington, much of it is exported.

“Our exporting members remain extremely distressed about difficulty with logistics related to the exports from January 1st onwards including issues with the design of government systems and processes, availability of staff needed to sign off exports and a massive increase in paperwork burdens with significant associated costs,” said Ms Pool.

Fishing has always been an emotional issue in the UK’s relationship with the European Union, and is at centre of ongoing negotiations regarding a future trade deal.

“Parts of our South West fishing fleet are facing the breakdown of a 40-year-old accord with our French and Belgian colleagues, and the associated loss of fishing grounds and therefore revenue,” said Ms Pool.

Exporters says they are working through exceptionally difficult times. Mark Moore, from the Dartmouth Crab Company, warned that ‘lack of clarity from Government is impacting our day to day business, as we try to prepare to export in the new year.’

The company has a fleet of nine and exports live crabs to France and Portugal. Over the decades the shellfish industry has relied on a smooth supply chain delivering seafood from catch to plate within 24 hours.

Mr Moore is worried about the news rules and regulation could slow things down, which is a major concern when dealing live products.

“The catch certification requirements remain unworkable, the issuing of European Health Certificates is still in a state of confusion and we are significantly concerned about the additional costs related to these, there is no real guidance available on how tariffs will operate.

“Frankly, it’s a mess”.

Elderly man dies after choking on meat in pub

A man died after choking on a piece of meat, an inquest has found.

Yukio Nishigaki, 83, from Evesham swallowed it while having lunch at a local pub.

The inquest heard the first paramedic on the scene should have used an instrument to check his airway before pushing in a tube.

But a consultant said even if the correct equipment had been used, it would have been difficult to remove the meat in time.

The inquest concluded it was an accidental death and the mistake was not the cause of Mr Nishigaki’s death.

The meat was eventually removed by an ambulance paramedic, who arrived at the scene later, the hearing was told.

Daughter-in-law Emma Nishigaki said the family was frustrated there had been no ambulance on duty based in Evesham that day.

An investigation carried out by West Midlands Ambulance Service found it had taken 16-17 minutes to provide appropriate treatment.

It also found the instrument needed to check Mr Nishigaki’s airway had been in the paramedic’s kit bag, but he had failed to find it.

In a statement, the ambulance service said it had implemented a number of recommendations made by the internal investigation “to prevent future incidents like this happening again”.

Drug deaths in Scotland: Minister Joe FitzPatrick loses job

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick has lost his job in government after Scotland recorded its highest ever number of drug deaths.

The first minister has appointed Angela Constance as a minister to take charge of the response to the drugs crisis.

She will be a full-time drugs minister, reporting directly to Nicola Sturgeon.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats had been demanding Mr Fitzpatrick’s resignation and were preparing a vote of no confidence in him.

Figures released this week showed that Scotland again had the worst drug death rate in Europe.

The figures for last year showed that the number of deaths increased to a record high of 1,264 – double the number in 2014 and giving the country a death rate three and a half times higher than England and Wales.

In a statement, Mr FitzPatrick said he had spoken to the first minister and agreed to leave government.

He said the “most heart-breaking and difficult problems” he faced as public health minister were the harms and deaths caused by drug use.

“As the minister responsible for this area I, ultimately, take my responsibility,” he added.

“It is clear that my presence as a minister will become a distraction, when we should be focused on achieving the change we need to save lives.”

Ms Sturgeon thanked the Dundee City West MSP and added: “While the time has now come to make a change in the public health brief, no-one should doubt Joe’s hard work, dedication and sincerity.

“He will continue to champion the interests of his constituents at Holyrood, and I wish him well in the future.”

She added that Angela Constance, a former social worker who worked with drug users and their families, would work alongside her as drugs minister to help people whose lives were affected by drugs.

Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that the drugs death figures were “indefensible” and that her government had to do more to stop people dying.

She also apologised to families who had lost loved ones, and admitted that they had been let down.

Ms Sturgeon pledged to work with Mr FitzPatrick to “to make sure we collectively accept this responsibility and take the actions required to fix the problem”.

But she appeared to stop short of openly defending her minister from the criticism that has been directed at him over his performance in role.

Joe FitzPatrick was born in Dundee in 1967 and was educated at Whitfield High School. He originally studied forestry at Inverness College and worked for a spell for the Forestry Commission.

His political career started when he was elected to Dundee City Council in 1999.

He won the Scottish Parliament seat for Dundee West in May 2007, and went on to serve on the Holyrood finance committee and as convener of the local government and regeneration committee.

He became minister for parliamentary business in September 2012 and in June 2018 he was appointed minister for public health, sport and wellbeing.

Mr FitzPatrick has faced calls to resign since record drugs death numbers were published earlier this week.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Mr FitzPatrick’s resignation “changes nothing” and described the government’s drug strategy as “disastrous”.

“If this was about the shocking number of drug-related deaths this year, he would have gone on the day the numbers were released,” Mr Ross said.

He added: “We urged the first minister to agree to our proposed £20m funding for rehabilitation but got no commitment.

“All the focus must be on the urgent public health crisis of Scotland’s drugs deaths epidemic so we can finally start to reverse the tragic number of lives being lost from drugs.”

Meanwhile, Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, said it was right that Mr FitzPatrick had resigned and called on ministers to give Scotland’s drugs deaths their full attention.

“Urgent funding is needed to boost access to treatment and residential rehab,” she said. “The Scottish government must get behind safe consumption facilities, like the voluntary service being run in Glasgow.”

She added: “This must be a turning point. The SNP has failed badly and Joe Fitzpatrick doesn’t bear that responsibility alone. Our parliament can lead the world on progressive public health policies when we put our minds to it.”

Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said Mr FitzPatrick’s departure was “inevitable” but it did not ease the pressure on the government over their drugs policy.

“Change is needed and fast,” he tweeted.

Committee to see report containing Alex Salmond case legal advice

MSPs are to be allowed to read a report containing legal advice given to the Scottish government during its legal battle with Alex Salmond.

The committee investigating the handling of harassment complaints against the former first minister will be given access to the document in a special “reading room” next Tuesday.

Its members will be able to read the report on a confidential basis.

The committee is still pushing for the full legal advice to be published.

Its convener, Linda Fabiani, said the report only covers some of the legal advice which the committee is asking to see.

The MSPs will not be allowed to remove or copy the document, although Ms Fabiani has asked that they be allowed to take notes.

She said: “The committee believes that to fulfil the vital task that parliament has set it, it needs to see legal advice including from counsel.

“It continues to push to see this advice in full and believes that it has to be published.

“In the meantime, the committee has agreed to accept the terms of an offer negotiated with the Scottish government to read a report which includes some of the legal advice.”

A redacted copy of the report, which is dated 29 December 2018, will be published after the unredacted version has been seen by the committee.

MSPs have previously voted to demand that the government hands over all the legal advice it had received.

Ministers have said that legal privilege prevents them from disclosing the documents.

The row centres on legal advice that was given to the Scottish government after Mr Salmond launched judicial review proceedings at the Court of Session over the way harassment complaints against him had been handled.

The government ended up admitting it had acted unlawfully because one of its investigating officers had prior contact with two complainers.

It had to pay Mr Salmond more than £500,000 in legal expenses as a result, and a Holyrood committee was set up to examine what had gone wrong.

Earlier this year, Mr Salmond was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault following a High Court trial.

Alex Rodda death: Murder accused embarrassed about sexuality

A teenager who beat a schoolboy to death with a spanner has told a court he did not think his friends would accept him if he was gay.

Matthew Mason, 19, admits killing 15-year-old Alex Rodda in woodland in Ashley, Cheshire, on 12 December last year but denies his murder.

Chester Crown Court has heard Mr Mason paid Alex £2,000 to stop him revealing their sexual relationship.

He said he asked his friends for money but did not tell them what it was for.

Mr Mason told the court he was “embarrassed and worried” and feared the friendship would end “because they would not accept me for what happened”.

Asked by prosecutor Ian Unsworth QC what he meant, he said: “Because of what me and Alex had done together, like if I was to speak to someone about it they wouldn’t understand why it had happened and they wouldn’t accept me if I was gay or bisexual.”

Mr Mason, of Ash Lane in Ollerton, admitted having sex with Alex but said he thought it was wrong, adding: “For one, because he was a male and, secondly, his age.”

He told the jury he did not hate Alex for blackmailing him but he thought he was “being a bit of a bully”.

The court heard Mr Mason had searched the internet for phrases including “what would happen if you kicked someone down the stairs” and “everyday poison”.

He told jurors he felt depressed and suicidal after his girlfriend broke up with him when Alex contacted her and told her about an explicit photo and video he had sent him.

Mr Mason told the court he worked at a plant hire firm, attended Reaseheath College and was rehearsing for the Young Farmers’ Club’s Christmas play.

He accepted he hit Alex at least 15 times on the head with the spanner after driving to remote woodland.

He said when he drove away from the scene he threw Alex’s phone out of the car.

The jury was told before giving evidence he had not previously admitted disposing of the phone.

The trial continues.

Sesame Street creates Rohingya muppets for refugee children

The US children’s show Sesame Street has created two new muppets to help deliver early years education to Rohingya children living in the world’s largest refugee camp.

Noor and Aziz are six-year-old twins who will feature in a series of educational videos for children living in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.

Since 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a brutal army crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.

Half of those in the camp are children.

Aid agencies have warned of an increase in child marriage and trafficking in the refugee camp since the pandemic forced important services to be scaled back.

Noor and Aziz, along with more familiar Sesame Street characters such as Elmo, will feature in a series of educational videos that will cover subjects such as maths and science as well as issues around social and emotional wellbeing.

“These are two very special Sesame Muppets – for most Rohingya children, Noor and Aziz will be the very first characters in media who look and sound like them,” explained Sherrie Westin of the show’s non-profit arm, Sesame Workshop.

“Rooted in the rich Rohingya culture and informed by extensive research and input from Rohingya families, Noor and Aziz will bring the transformative power of playful learning to families at a time when it’s needed more than ever before.”

The Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority group, have been described as one the world’s most persecuted communities.

In January 2020, the UN’s top court ordered Myanmar to take measures to protect members of its Rohingya community from genocide.

The Rohingya-language Sesame Street videos have been devised as part of a Play to Learn programme set up by a series of international organisations, including the Bangladesh-based BRAC Institute of Educational Development and the Lego Foundation.

They have also been working with Syria’s refugee children, and earlier this year produced a localised version of Sesame Street called Ahlan Simsim.

Other muppets that have been created to help children understand issues affecting their world include one with autism, one living with HIV and another that is homeless.

Cyberpunk 2077: Sony pulls game from PlayStation while Xbox offers refunds

Sony has pulled Cyberpunk 2077, one of the year’s most-anticipated games, from its store and offered refunds to all players.

The unprecedented move follows complaints that the game has been riddled with bugs and glitches, and is prone to crashes.

Microsoft later said it would also refund any dissatisfied Xbox players.

Developer CD Projekt Red has promised to issue patches to improve the game for those who do not return it.

It’s unclear when Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) plans to return the game to the PlayStation Store.

“SIE strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, therefore we will begin to offer a full refund for all gamers who have purchased Cyberpunk 2077 via PlayStation Store,” the company said.

A Microsoft spokesperson said Xbox players would also get refunds – but is not pulling the game from sale.

“We know the developers at CD Projekt Red have worked hard to ship Cyberpunk in extremely challenging circumstances,” a spokesperson said.

“However, we also realise that some players have been unhappy with the current experience on older consoles.”

To rectify the situation it said it was issuing refunds to customers who have already requested one and would be expanding refunds to “anyone who purchased Cyberpunk 2077 digitally from the Microsoft Store, until further notice”.

To request an Xbox refund, users needed to follow the steps listed on the Xbox refund page .

Some Sony users reported being unable to request the refund, even after the announcement – something Sony said it was working “to get up and running as soon as possible”.

It can still be bought on PCs – and gamers who do not want be reimbursed for their copies can still play the game and receive updates.

Older consoles

In Cyberpunk 2077, players live in a criminal world where they can pay to upgrade their bodies with technology.

The action role-playing game was originally “announced” in 2012, but then re-announced in 2018 and then showcased with huge fanfare – and an appearance by Keanu Reeves – in June 2019.

The game reviewed well, with critics praising its gameplay and visuals – despite many visual glitches and bugs, which are common in large open-world games and often patched after launch day.

But on release it became clear that versions of the game for older consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One ran poorly, with hitching, visual quality drops and slowdown that many players said made the game unplayable.

Those with the newest versions of consoles, or a high-end gaming PC, have not experienced the same level of issues.

CD Projekt Red, which traditionally has focused on the PC market, had already acknowledged it “should have paid more attention to making it play better” on those consoles.

The company says it will release patches to solve the problems in January and February.

“They won’t make the game on last-gen look like it’s running on a high-spec PC or next-gen console, but it will be closer to that experience than it is now,” the company said in a statement on its website.

It also encouraged users to use refund systems on the Sony and Xbox stores if they were unhappy.

However, PlayStation’s policy is to usually not offer refunds if the game has been downloaded and played, “unless the content is faulty”.

That led to much confusion among players seeking refunds as directed by CD Projekt Red, who were refused such refunds by Sony.

It is not clear if the removal of the game from the PlayStation store means that Sony has decided the game is “faulty” under its rules.

Hours after PlayStation’s announcement that it was pulling Cyberpunk 2077 from sale, CD Projekt Red said the game was “temporarily” suspended “following our discussion with PlayStation”.

It said the game would “return as soon as possible” – but gave no date.

Xbox users also reported trouble with refunds, with many saying refund requests have been refused, despite an apparently flexible refund policy.

Microsoft says that while it considers all sales final, “we understand there may be extenuating circumstances” and it considers several factors for refund requests.

But the firm announced it was expanding its refund to cover all digital sales of Cyberpunk 2077 about half a day after Sony.

CD Projekt Red also came under fire from fans when it announced staff would have to work overtime to finish the game – a process known in the industry as “crunch”.

It had previously promised not to impose that kind of demand on its staff.

Christmas star: Planets set to align in the night sky

Jupiter and Saturn are set to cross paths in the night sky, appearing to the naked eye as a “double planet”.

The timing of this conjunction, as the celestial event is known, has caused some to suggest it may have been the source of a bright light in the sky 2,000 years ago.

That became known as the Star of Bethlehem.

The planets are moving closer together each night and will reach their closest point on 21 December.

Keen stargazers in the UK will have to keep a close eye on the weather to avoid an astronomical disappointment.

“Any evening it’s clear, it’s worth grabbing a chance, because the weather doesn’t look great,” Dr Carolin Crawford from the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy told the BBC.

If there is a gap in the winter gloom, both planets will appear in the southwest sky, just above the horizon shortly after sunset.

Monday is going to be a wet and windy day for many but come evening, most of the cloud and rain will be clearing away. Therefore, there should be plenty of clear spells developing across most parts of the UK. The exception to this may be in the southwest of England, south and west Wales where cloud will stick around with further rain spreading in. If you leave it too late in the night in southern England and the Midlands, that cloud and rain will be spreading in here through the night.

Some astronomers and theologians think so.

As Prof Eric M Vanden Eykel, a professor of religion from Ferrum College in Virginia, pointed out in an online article the timing has led to a lot of speculation “about whether this could be the same astronomical event that the Bible reports led the wise men to Joseph, Mary and the newly born Jesus”.

That is not just modern, festive speculation. The theory that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn might be the “Star of Wonder” was proposed in the early 17th Century by Johannes Kepler, a German astronomer and mathematician.

“2,000 years ago, people were a lot more aware of what was happening in the night sky,” said Dr Crawford, “[so] it’s not impossible that the Star of Bethlehem was a planetary alignment like this”.

As planets cross paths on their journey around the Sun, conjunctions are not particularly rare, but this one is special.

“Conjunctions are great things to see – they happen fairly often – but [for the planets to be this close] is quite remarkable,” Prof Tim O’Brien, an astrophysicist from the University of Manchester, told BBC News.

The two planets – the largest in the Solar System and some of the brightest objects visible in the night sky – have not been this close to each other in a dark sky for 800 years. And while the UK forecast is not at all conducive to star-gazing, it could change.

“It changes hourly – that’s just the British weather and that’s astronomy for you,” said Prof O’Brien.

“The planets will be setting in the southwest, so you need to get out there as soon as the sky is going dark.

“None of us is going to be around in another 400 years, so just keep an eye on the weather and pop outside if you get the chance.”

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Andy Wightman quits Scottish Greens over trans rights stance

A Scottish Greens MSP has quit the party over its “alienating and provocative” stance on trans rights.

Andy Wightman said he had been threatened with possible expulsion over his concerns about the potential impact of the issue on women’s rights.

And he accused the party of being “very censorious of any deviation from an agreed line”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said the party wished Mr Wightman well for the future.

He added: “The Scottish Greens are focused on building a greener and fairer Scotland that tackles the climate emergency, so Andy Wightman’s decision not to be part of our movement anymore is a matter of deep disappointment.

“Land reform, empowering local democracy and community empowerment are core Green issues, and Andy’s contribution has been very important, but the Greens remain committed to carrying on this agenda without him.”

Mr Wightman is a highly-respected land reform campaigner who has been an MSP for the Lothians since 2016.

In a letter to Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, he said he had wanted to vote in favour of an amendment to the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) Bill in the Scottish Parliament last week.

But he said he instead voted against the amendment after it was made clear to him that he would face “complaints and disciplinary action leading to possible suspension, deselection or expulsion” if he did not do so.

The amendment will give sexual assault victims the right to choose the sex, rather than just the gender, of the medical professional who examines them.

Supporters say the change is necessary to prevent female rape victims potentially being intimately examined by trans women if they do not wish to be.

It was overwhelmingly backed by MSPs in a vote last Thursday – with only the Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats voting against.

Mr Wightman said he had also been admonished last year for attending a public meeting in Edinburgh to hear concerns about the potential impact of gender recognition reforms on women’s rights.

He described being abused at the time on social media by some trans rights activists, and apologised for the “distress” he had caused party members by attending the meeting.

In his resignation letter, Mr Wightman said he had been saddened for some time by the “intolerance shown by some party members to an open and mature dialogue” about the issue.

He added: “I understand that the Scottish Green Party has a strong commitment to equalities and trans rights.

“However, some of the language, approaches and postures of the party and its spokespeople have been provocative, alienating and confrontational for many women and men.

“It has become evident to me that the sort of open-minded public engagement I would like to see take place on this topic is incompatible with a party that has become very censorious of any deviation from an agreed line.”

Mr Wightman will now sit as an independent MSP but said he remained committed to Green politics and would endeavour to “work constructively” with the party’s five remaining MSPs until the election in May.

Before being elected to parliament, Mr Wightman was best known for his Who Owns Scotland? book, which attempted to set out the amount of the country’s land that was held by overseas interests, the aristocracy, companies, charitable bodies and the state.

He has also campaigned for tighter restrictions to be placed on short-term holiday accommodation in Edinburgh.

And he won a a defamation case earlier this year after Scottish Wildcat Haven attempted to sue him for £750,000 over statements he made in a blog post about the company’s business practices.

Controversy over the issue has centred on the Scottish government’s plans to make it easier for people to change their legally-recognised gender.

The government believes the current process is intrusive and outdated, and wants to move to a “self-declaration” model which it says is needed to improve equality and help ensure transgender people are treated with dignity.

The proposals would mean applicants would no longer need to have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria – distress as a result of a difference between their biological sex and their gender identity – or have been living as their acquired gender for two years.

The government has also been considering lowering the age that a person can apply to change their legally-recognised gender from 18 to 16.

The plans, which are supported by trans rights campaigners and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, have proved to be deeply controversial within the SNP in particular, with activists and high-profile politicians on either side of the debate regularly attacking each other on social media.

Critics of the proposals argue that allowing people to self-identify their gender could damage the legal protections given to women under the Equality Act – including the right to single-sex spaces such as changing rooms, and women-only shortlists.

A group of 15 senior SNP politicians – including MP Joanna Cherry and MSP Kate Forbes, who is now the finance secretary – signed a letter last year urging the first minister not to “rush” into “changing the definition of male and female”.

The letter was in response to Ms Sturgeon saying in a speech to the UN that “some of the concerns that are expressed on the part of women and feminists are misplaced”.

The Scottish government subsequently announced that it was putting the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act on hold while further consultations were held in an attempt to build “maximum consensus” on the issue.

Tesco fined £500,000 over childs electric shock in Bracknell store

Tesco has been fined more than £500,000 after a 10-year-old child was given an electric shock by a freezer unit.

The child suffered a small burn, chest and leg pains after they reached to get an ice lolly from the unit at a store in Warfield, Bracknell.

The Public Protection Service said a live wire, which was sticking out under a rail on the freezer, had become damaged and exposed.

The supermarket giant pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences.

It was fined £268,000 for each offence at Reading Magistrates’ Court.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said an investigation found the incident in July 2017 happened after staff failed to fix an issue with the electrical supply to a glass heating element under a handrail on the front of the freezer. 

Subsequent reviews of records showed the freezer’s rail was known to be loose and had temporary fixes of glue or tape months prior to the accident.

Councillor John Harrison, head of public protection at Bracknell Forest Council, said the investigation “revealed significant breaches of health and safety legislation”.

Tesco was sentenced on Tuesday and ordered to pay costs of £25,750.91.

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