Backchat is firmly a real ale man (he's a card-carrying CAMRA member). So he was delighted to hear from his aptly-named beer-swilling chum Keith Porter of Davies loss adjusters. The beer-monster encountered an unusual case last week when he was called in to examine the damage to a lorry load of imported malted barley destined for a mid-Wales brewery.

The haulier had picked up the load in Lille in France and, when checking his vehicle on the ferry from Calais, noticed a problem with the cover. With his suspicions aroused he soon uncovered five illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe who had stowed away within the load.

After alerting customs officials the driver was left facing a possible fine of £10,000 for assisting illegal immigration but, worse still, his cargo was condemned due to, as the customs men politely put it, the amount of human waste material that had contaminated the grain.

Backchat understands that the 27-ton consignment will either be dumped altogether or possibly used for animal feed.

Backchat, however, agrees with Porter, who said: "It is a pity that the load was lost for the brewery, although as I believe it was going to be used to make lager, it could have given credence to some people's view of that drink."