August 12, 2020 10.45 am This story is over 45 months old

Lincolnshire farmer ‘contaminated baby food with metal to blackmail Tesco’

He denied it, but then said he was forced to do it

A Lincolnshire farmer allegedly contaminated baby food with metal and tried to blackmail Tesco in a £1.4 million bitcoin plot.

Nigel Wright, 45, from near Market Rasen, appeared at the Old Bailey where he denied two counts of contaminating goods and three counts of blackmail.

He had told Tesco he would reveal which stores he had planted the contaminated jars in, between May 2018 and February 2020, if they paid him in bitcoin.

According to Sky News and BBC News reports, the metal found in the jars of Heinz baby food was fragments of a craft knife blade.

Two mothers came close to feeding their babies the food. The court heard that Morven Smith was feeding her 10-month-old son a jar of Heinz sweet and sour chicken baby food in December last year when she noticed the shards of the knife blade.

Tesco then issued a national recall of all jars of the product and Harpeet Kaur Singh also discovered fragments of metal when she was feeding her nine-month-old daughter.

The two customers had found the slivers of metal in November and December 2019 in Rochdale and Lockerbie.

A total of 42,000 jars of Heinz baby food were recovered, but there was no evidence that any other products had been tampered with.

Drafts of messages sent to Tesco were found on his laptop, along with photos of food tins, jars of baby food and silvers of metal.

In letters Wright allegedly claimed to have spiked canned food with salmonella and other chemicals, but there was no evidence to show this.

It is also understood that he threatened to continue poisoning Tesco products if payment was not made.

He admitted various elements of the campaign but claims he was forced to do so by travellers who had demanded he give them £1 million so he acted in fear of his life.

Wright also claimed to be one of a number of dairy farmers calling themselves “Guy Brush and the Dairy Pirates” who believed they had been underpaid.

In a separate charge of blackmail, he is accused of demanding £150,000 worth of bitcoin from a driver with whom he had a road rage altercation.