Tesco was defiant and said that it was preparing a robust defence of its actions. Lucy Neville-Rolfe， its executivedirector， said： "As we have always said， we acted independently and we did not collude with anyone. Our position is different from our competitors and we are defending our own case vigorously. Our philosophy is to give a good deal tocustomers. "
Morrisons has supported the OFT in inquiries into the former Safeway business that it took over， but in astatement said that it was still making "strong representations" in its defence. A spokeswoman for Lactalis McLellandsaid that the company was "co-operating" with the OFT. Industry insiders suggested that the three companies were deliberately stalling the OFT investigation.
Sainsburys admitted yesterday that it had agreed to pay 26 million in fines， but denied that it had sought topro fiteer. Justin King， the chief executive， said he was disappointed that the company had been penalised for actions meant to help farmers but recognised the benefit of a speedy settlement. Asda declined to say how much it would payin fines and also said that its intention had been to help farmers under severe financial pressure.