Two men arrrested on charges of potato fraud

A senior buyer for Sainsbury's has been arrested over claims that he took £3m in backhanders from a major potato supplier, police said.

John Maylam is alleged to have received cash from the Shropshire-based growers Greenvale, one of the country's leading producers. It supplies about half of Sainsbury's potatoes.

Mr Maylam was arrested, along with Greenvale's operations director David Baxter, by the City of London Police fraud squad on suspicion of corruption and money laundering. Both men have been bailed. They were arrested on Thursday, when police also raided a number of houses and business premises in Cambridgeshire and Shropshire.

A Greenvale spokesman said a number of staff had been suspended after an internal investigation. A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that allegations have been made concerning certain payments and benefits by a supplier to an individual employed by us. We have the highest standards of corporate governance and, following inquiries, have passed our findings to the police for further investigation. We are unable to comment further at this stage."

A Sainsbury's source told The Sunday Times: "None of the payments went through our system and we believe this was limited to the one supplier."

Sainsbury's sells 190 million kilograms of potatoes a year, worth about £130m. The British potato market as a whole is said to be worth £1bn. Greenvale also supplies Tesco.

Greenvale won the Queen's Award for Innovation in 2006 for its introduction of environmentally friendly growing techniques and technical improvements. Mr Maylam, speaking at the time, said: "The news comes as no surprise, as we have always found them to be particularly progressive in innovation. We have enjoyed working with Greenvale's team over the past 40 years and look forward to offering more of their top-quality produce to our customers."

In 2005 Sainsbury's ditched Cambridgeshire-based potato supplier MBM while increasing its business with Greenvale, which was able to take on an extra 130 workers as a result.

Commenting on that decision, Mr Maylam said: "By streamlining our potato supply base we are in a much better position to improve efficiencies for everyone involved in the supply chain, which ultimately means we will be able to serve our customers better."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital