MEP Anthea McIntyre has vowed to do all she can to get answers to the mystery surrounding football fan Robert Spray's death while in the custody of Bulgarian police.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, has joined with Mr Spray's Cannock Chase constituency MP Amanda Milling to pursue the case. She will use international contacts to call for an independent inquiry and full disclosure of events surrounding the death

Mr Spray was in Sofia to watch England play Bulgaria when he died in a police car.  The police had removed him from a hospital where he was taken after being found in a helpless condition. 

Miss McIntyre said: "There will now be an autopsy and toxicology tests here in the UK on the body to see what they tell us about events on the night he died.

"A truly independent inquiry is needed to get right to the truth of what happened - not only before Rob went to hospital but after he was taken out of the hospital's care in a police vehicle.

"I will be informing Bulgarian colleagues in the European Parliament about the family's concerns and seeking their help in pursuing the truth behind  this tragic case at all costs."

Leading business figures from the West Midlands received a detailed Brexit briefing from regional MEP Anthea McIntyre. 

She was introduced by Coventry’s newest Conservative Councillor, Mattie Heaven, who had been instrumental in organising the Business Breakfast at Coombe Abbey.

The Conservative MEP told the audience that it was vital that an extension to the UK's departure, however long, should be used to make political progress in Westminster towards getting Boris Johnson's deal ratified.

She outlined her work as Conservative spokesman on both Agriculture and Environment in Brussels, explained the dynamics of the new European Parliament

Miss McIntyre described how most British MEPs took a pragmatic approach to work in the parliament and she anticipated an extended leaving date of between November 15 and January 31. She warned that President Macron had underlying issues - including securing the position of his preferred candidate as French Commissioner - which he wanted settled before agreeing to the ‘Flextension’.

After the meeting she said: "Many business people are extremely anxious, not only about how Brexit will end but how long the process will take.

"There were no easy guarantees to offer, but I was able to assure them that the Government and our Conservative MEPs were doing all in our power to bring the process to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible.

"I have consistently warned against the potential impact on business of a no-deal Brexit - and the best way for our MPs to avoid no-deal is to approve the agreement now in front of them."

Regulation must not be a barrier to innovation, an audience of farming and building machinery manufacturers was told in Brussels.

The warning came from Anthea McIntyre MEP at a high level gathering in the European Parliament organised by the European Forum for Manufacturing and focusing on the two related sectors.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both agriculture and environment, said innovation was key to competitiveness, yet in the EU, science-based policy-making was under threat.

The West Midlands UK MEP said: "I have used my position as an MEP to urge partnerships between academia, industry, breeders, the agro-chemicals sector, farmers and food manufacturers to ensure our European agricultural sector does not fall behind its international competitors."

She outlined the scope of her report in the last  Parliament on Technological Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and its call for sustained investment in research and development to ensure new ideas and techniques are commercialised.

Miss McIntyre stressed: "We must make sure that small farmers as well as large can benefit from technology.

"The agriculture sector has always relied on new techniques and production methods to increase outputs and to adapt to new and changing circumstances. At the present time, there is a particular need for innovation in precision farming.

"In the desire to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural chemicals, the development of new active substances is essential and so is the development of new machinery to apply these substances.

"Economic development and sustainable production are not mutually exclusive. They are both achievable through innovation. We can improve the performance and adaptability of precision farming techniques and we must ensure that research funding is used effectively in the interests of agriculture.

"Harper Adams University in my region has done pioneering work with its 'Hands Free Hectare'. They were first in the world to grow, tend and harvest a crop using robotic tractors and drones, with no operators in the driving seat or agronomists on the ground. 

"Now they are broadening out to 35-hectares and a new vision of the future of farming.

"This is no longer a feasibility study, but a real world farm, complete with irregular shaped fields, obstacles, undulating land and pathways. This will be a real testbed for agricultural innovation.

 "It is so important that EU regulation enables farmers to make the best use of such resources. EU regulations must not undermine innovative processes by putting unnecessary administrative burdens on farmers or on manufacturers."

New figures on hate crime should be a lesson for anyone who tries to deny the problem is real, a campaigning MEP said today (Tues).

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, spoke out after the latest annual statistic showed a 10 per cent rise in recorded hate crimes in England and Wales. Race hate crimes accounted for three out of four of offences, while crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation or for being transgender rocketed 25 and 37 per cent, respectively.

Miss McIntyre, joint founder of the cross-party campaign group West Midlands Together, said the figures showed the reality, scope and scale of hate crime and she congratulated police for making sure it was probably recorded and addressed.

"Unless everyone accepts that hate crime is real and we recognise and challenge it in all its many forms, we will be fighting a losing battle," she said. 

"We formed West Midlands Together to show regional cross-party solidarity following the spike in hate crime which followed the EU referendum. My only sorrow is that senior figures in Westminster chose to take these figures as an opportunity to launch attacks and score party political points against the Government.

"Our experience in West Midlands Together shows that you achieve more by working together against the genuine proponents of hate crime than you do by trying to weaponise the issue politically."

Conservative MEPs are in the vanguard of attempts this week to roll back over-zealous EU restrictions on gene editing.

Led by agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, they are voting against proposals to block the import of three gene-edited products - two for maize and one for soya bean.

She said: "When it comes to Greta Thunberg's message on global warming everyone says the same - listen to the science. On vaccinations – listen to the science. 

"But on gene editing? I am afraid the science is being ignored.

"The EU and particularly this Parliament has to decide whether we accept science or not in our decision making. I really hope we do"

She said it was important to keep the technology here in Europe. Genetic modification was safe and benign and there were no unknown unknowns.

She said: "The EU's GMO legislation puts a block on innovation. It is not fit for purpose and urgently needs review to ensure risk-based, proportionate and science-based policy

"I hope that the new commission will commit to working on this over the coming five years and I know industry stands ready to support this process.

"We must provide the most fertile ground for EU innovation we need to keep doing what we do best which is collaborating and working across nationalities and disciplines."

In a separate vote, Conservative MEPs are also also opposing moves effectively to ban two plant protection products, flumioxazine and chlorotoluron.

They are voting against objections raised by Green and Communist MEPs to Commission proposals for extending approval periods for both products.