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The general counsel for US animal research company Merial, one of the companies at the heart of the investigation into the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Surrey, has not had an active US legal licence since 2000, it has emerged.
Horace Nalle has been general counsel at Merial since 1997, but asked the State Bar of Pennsylvania to move him to inactive status seven years ago.
Nalle applied to gain active status once again this year.
A press spokesperson for the company said: "Off the top of my head it could be that our global office used to be in Knightsbridge. But then the chairman changed and moved the operational office back to America."
The spokesperson said that Nalle worked in the London office between 1997 and 2002 and would not have foreseen the move to the US.
Practising law without a licence in the US can lead to being disbarred.