Fuller's attacks beer duty rise

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Fuller's, the London brewer, yesterday launched a stinging attack on the Government's decision to raise beer duty next month, which it believes will exacerbate the growing problem of alcohol being imported in huge quantities from France.

Michael Turner, managing director of Fuller's, said: "1.3 million pints are being imported a day or nearly 5 per cent of the total UK beer consumption. It is gang warfare in Dover with criminals intimidating licensees to sell beer."

Anthony Fuller, the group's chairman, pledged support for Shepherd Neame, the Kent brewer which is attempt to sue the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, over the hike in duty. Shepherd Neame has taken its case to the European courts and is due to hear next week whether it has grounds for further proceedings.

Fuller's also announced plans for the rapid expansion of its managed pub estate, including the opening of The Fine Line, a new pub chain designed to appeal to affluent twenty-somethings. Pre-tax profits grew 16 per cent to pounds 6.06m for the six months to September and the dividend rose to 3.6p (3.1p) a share.