Well-known firm near Sheffield in court over health benefit claims about honey

A furious district judge launched into two barristers after the trial of the directors of a north Derbyshire honey company had to be put back because neither side was ready.

By Andy Done-Johnson
Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 3:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 3:30 pm

Gloria Vanessa Edna Havenhand and Giles Norton, both directors of the medical honey company Medibee - which also faces charges - were due to appear at the start of a two-day trial concerning claims made on product labelling and the internet.

But when defence and prosecution council appeared late before Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court on Monday, February 3, they were berated by Judge Andrew Davison for not being ready to commence the trial - which was listed for trial six months ago.

It is alleged that Havenhand, 74, and Norton, 43, both of Troway Hall, Marsh Lane, near Dronfield, along with the company, made health claims about the benefits of the honey they produce, which is then used to produce a range of health products.

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Gloria Havenhand, who denies the charges.

On merchandise and on the company website it is claimed that their range of produce varyingly “assists with lifestyle exhaustion", and “assists with energy and long life”.Another states: “Always choose raw honey for the best of health", while another claims: “Romans believed that borage and borage honey increased the blood flow to the brain."

Additionally Havenhand and Norton are charged with failing to comply with an improvement notice to remove the word 'antibacterial' from their 'Bee Bio-Active Antibacterial Honey', when ordered to do so by Trading Standards Staff at Derbyshire County Council.

Counsel for both sides blamed the other for the delay, with prosecutors for Trading Standards claiming they were being ‘ambushed’ by the defence.

The defence also asked for clarification as to why the council had gone after Medibee when other producers in the county made similar claims.

Judge Davison said: “To say that this case has been listed for six months, and for it to come before the court in this state is simply not acceptable. I don’t intend to try this case in a day-and-a-half because it will take two days and a busy two days at that.”

The case is expected to be listed for later this year.