Leading article: Customer first

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The Independent Online

Free markets usually work well for customers – but not always. Sometimes businesses abuse their customers by colluding to fix prices. That is why markets need to be policed by competition authorities.

Our own Office of Fair Trading has investigated nine firms, including some of our largest supermarket chains, over the price fixing of dairy products. And it has ruled that they did collude over prices and, in response, it has imposed fines.

Yet the largest supermarket chain of all, Tesco, is challenging the judgment and has effectively called for the OFT to be broken up. The matter will now go to the courts. But whatever the outcome, one thing must not be conceded: markets need policemen.