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Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine Standards Board (WSB) has been granted another five years as the sector's regulator, following a review earlier this year. In the WSB's annual report for 2000/01, chairman Christopher Roberts states that, like other public bodies, the WSB is subject to review. The Government, having asked interested parties if there is still a need for the board, has agreed to another five-year term. In response to accusations that the WSB is a paper tiger', Roberts said: It is true that the board can only act on the basis of the EU wine regulations, which often reflect producer rather than consumer interests, and that the board itself is not a prosecuting authority. However, while we prefer to achieve results by persuasion rather than prosecution, we are not as powerless as some imagine,' he stated. We can and do assist other enforcement authorities to bring prosecutions under their regulatory powers. In the case of the "Bollinger Millennium Champagne" scam, an offender received a 12-month prison sentence,' said Roberts. The WSB also received a 25,000 grant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food (MAFF) towards upgrading its IT systems. Julian Taylor became the inspector of south-central England while Brian Smith will oversee the northwest. The WSB is required to keep a register of vineyards in the UK: in March it listed 1,566 traders and 363 vineyards (in 2000: 1,587 and 373). It noted 121 registrations and 153 deletions, a 14% change. The WSB had to impose two controls on movement' - on an illegal sweet wine from South Africa, and an Argentinian wine bottled in Germany. It also issued 102 informal movement controls: the main infringement (80%) being missing importer's details. There were also warning letters regarding an illegal sweet New Zealand wine, the use of Shiraz' on a French wine and a made wine described as British Sherry'.