News from Food Safety and Trading Standards
Dogs Sniff Out Illegal Tobacco in Haringey
18 October 2017: The Trading Standards Team working in partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have carried out an operation assisted by specialist tobacco sniffer dogs supplied by Wagtail UK Ltd to tackle the problem of illicit tobacco in Haringey. During the day two Self Storage Centres were visited together with six shop premises.
The dogs are specially trained to detect deliberately concealed tobacco hidden behind doors, walls and panels.
During the operation 7,620 illicit cigarettes were discovered by the dogs in the basement of a shop in the Tottenham area. The cigarettes did not comply with UK health warning or plain packaging requirements and were not Duty paid. The cigarettes were seized pending further investigation by Trading Standards and HMRC.
The dogs are an invaluable resource assisting officers to discover criminal activity at storage facilities which would otherwise go undetected and for finding sophisticated concealments of tobacco at retail premises.
Tottenham trader has Licence Suspended and Conditions imposed
20 July 2017: Yesim Supermarket of 260 Philip Lane, Tottenham, N15 4AD had their alcohol licence suspended for three months and had additional conditions imposed following a hearing of Haringey’s Licensing Sub-Committee.
The Committee heard that Trading Standards had brought the Licence Review in response to a number of incidents at the premises. The most recent being a seizure of illicit tobacco on 16 May 2017. During the hearing Trading Standards also raised concerns that the shop had not been keeping a refusals register which was discovered during a visit on 31 January 2017. Prior to that there had been further incidents involving the discovery of illicit tobacco in October and November 2014 and an underage sale of alcohol which took place in December 2014.
Having taken account of the full history of the premises the Committee imposed a three month suspension of the Licence and strengthened the Conditions on the Licence to include further restrictions on the storage of tobacco and requirements to keep CCTV footage. The business was given 21 days to appeal the decision and no appeal was received.
Tottenham Trader Bags a Fine for Selling Fakes
6 April 2017: The owner of a Tottenham luggage and accessories shop was fined £1,500 by Tottenham Magistrates and ordered to pay £600 costs for stocking fake designer bags at his shop in West Green Road, in a case brought by Haringey Trading Standards.
Shahram Torfakh, 57, who trades as The Ark Accessories from 6A West Green Road, London N15 pleaded guilty at Tottenham Magistrates Court to two offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 in relation to selling fake Louis Vuitton and Burberry bags.
Trading Standards Officers had visited the shop on 12 January 2017 where they had seized a quantity of designer bags and purses which included famous names such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton. The goods seized were cheap copies of designer bags bearing false Trade Marks. The Court heard that Mr Torfakh had ignored warnings as recently as November 2016 to stop trading in illegal goods but had continued to stock them.
In passing sentence the Court gave Mr Torfakh credit for his guilty plea and took into account the fact that he had been in business for nine years without previous problems. In addition to the fine and costs Torfakh was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £50. The Court ordered the destruction of the seized goods.
Tottenham trader fined £3,600 for persistently selling illegal cigarettes
23 March 2017: The owner of a Tottenham mini market was fined a total £3,600 for selling illicit cigarettes from her Tottenham Shop in a case brought by Haringey Council’s Trading Standards Service.
Klaudia Kurek who trades as “Bartek Polski Sklep” from 820 High Road, Tottenham N17 pleaded guilty to 8 charges at Tottenham Magistrates Court under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 for possessing cigarettes with health warnings which did not comply with UK requirements. In addition she was ordered to pay costs of £1,036 and a £45 victim surcharge.
The Court Heard that Officers had visited the shop on 1st July 2016 and again on 4th November 2016. On both occasions stocks of illicit cigarettes were found in the shop. Altogether 1,520 cigarettes were seized during the two visits. Magistrates also heard that this was not the first time she had been caught with illegal cigarettes. She had previously received a warning letter from Trading Standards in December 2014 for stocking illegal cigarettes at the same premises and had been prosecuted for a similar offences in February 2013 when trading at another shop in Haringey for which she was fined £1,000.
Kurek told the Court that she was sorry and would not be doing it again and had bought the cigarettes because they were cheap.
In passing sentence the Magistrates took into account her previous history and in addition, they ordered the cigarettes to be destroyed.
Wood Green Off Licence Sanctioned for Stocking Illicit Alcohol
30 January 2017 - Haringey’s Licensing Sub Committee imposed a 6 week suspension, imposed additional conditions and removed the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) from the Licence following a Licence Review brought by Trading Standards.
The Committee heard that Trading Standards and HMRC Officers visited Euro Market of 12 Lymington Avenue, Wood Green London N22 in July 2016 where a large quantity of illicit and counterfeit tobacco products were found. A second visit in September 2016 resulted in the seizure of non Duty paid Vodka.
The committee heard that the Licensee was not the Licence holder at the time of the first visit but evidence was available which led Trading Standards to believe that the licensee and Designated Premises Supervisor were involved in the business during both visits.
After hearing evidence from both sides it was resolved by the Committee
- To modify the conditions of the licence to tighten controls on where alcohol was purchased from and what was allowed to be stored on the premises
- To suspend the license for a period of 6 weeks
- To remove Mr Shorish Hamza as Designated Premises Supervisor
The Committee considered that there was a degree of doubt about whether the license holder had taken over the business at the time of the joint Trading Standards and HMRC inspection in July 2016 and whether she had been fully responsible for the counterfeit and illicit tobacco products found at the premises at that time.
The Committee noted however that the current DPS Mr Hamza was in sole charge of the premises on the first visit and did not consider his explanation that he was there because that day he was training for his new role was credible. This was based on the witness statement of the HMRC officer that Mr Hamza was in sole charge and was offering the counterfeit and illicit tobacco products for sale. He admitted to knowing that he shouldn’t be selling them and when the goods were seized the reason was explained to him.
They added that on the second occasion there had been a deliberate failure by the license holder and the DPS to uphold and promote the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder.
The committee were satisfied that there had been a breakdown in the due diligence in sourcing legitimate products for sale and it was therefore also appropriate to impose the additional conditions recommended by Trading Standards in order to promote the licensing objectives.
Four People Arrested on Suspicion of selling Counterfeit tobacco
11 December 2016 - Following a joint operation involving Police, council Street Trading Officers and Trading Standards four individuals were arrested for selling counterfeit tobacco on the streets outside the White Hart Lane Sunday boot sale. A search was subsequently carried out at one suspects home address. The four men were interviewed and bailed to return at a later date pending further investigations.
Tobacco seized following multi agency operation across Haringey and Enfield
6 December 2016 - An operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco in Enfield and Haringey uncovered 11,780 cigarettes and 19.15 kilos of hand-rolling and shisha tobacco, all believed to be illicit.
Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from Haringey and Enfield Trading Standards, visited 43 retail premises on Tuesday 6 December 2016. In many cases highly trained tobacco “sniffer dogs” were used to help find illegal products.
The visits led to suspected illegal tobacco products being seized from seven premises, evading a total of £6,984 in duty and VAT. This included:
- 11,780 cigarettes, with an estimated £3,887 duty and VAT evaded
- 14.35 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, with an estimated £1,854 duty and VAT evaded
- 4.8 kilos of shisha tobacco, with an estimated £1,243 duty and VAT evaded
Cllr Peray Ahmet, Haringey Council Cabinet Member for Environment said: “We will look to prosecute anyone found to be breaking the rules and hopefully this operation will send a clear message to traders across the borough that we will not tolerate them evading tax or selling illegal cigarettes.”
David Margree, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
Trading Standards Check Second Hand Electrical Goods For Safety
2 December 2016 - Haringey Trading Standards have taken part in a tri-regional Trading Standards Project to check the electrical safety of second hand goods on sale in shops in the borough. Altogether 64 second-hand electrical goods retailers were visited by 15 authorities in London. 41% of retailers inspected were found to be completely compliant and had processes and procedures in place to comply with the law. 783 products were checked and of those 211 failed to meet basic safety requirements. In some cases products labelled as being safety tested had not been. Overall there was a 27% failure rate. The risks found included potential electric shock and access to live parts. Fortunately in Haringey no major issues were found and the traders visited were advised on how best to comply with the law.
Tottenham Trader pleads guilty to selling illegal tobacco and alcohol
2 November 2016 - Kazim Marasli 47 who Trades as Tottenham Express from 591 High Road Tottenham N17 6SB was fined £1,080 and ordered to pay £1,180 costs after pleading guilty to four offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at Tottenham Magistrates Court.
The Court heard that Marasli’s off Licence premises had been visited by Trading Standards working in partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in February 2016. There, officers discovered a secret shelf beneath the counter containing a stash of 82 packets of foreign cigarettes with incorrect health warnings. The cigarettes could not be seen from either side of the counter and could only be discovered by reaching up inside a hidden cavity built into the counter.
During the inspection of the shop officers also discovered bottles of whisky and vodka with fake Duty labels falsely indicating that the spirits had had UK Duty paid on them when in fact they were Duty Free imports.
Altogether the Duty evaded on the goods subject to the charges was £884.
Marasli had originally pleaded not guilty but had changed his plea on the morning of the trial.
In passing sentence the District Judge indicated that he did not accept Marasli’s statement at his interview with Trading Standards that the cigarettes were for personal use as if they were they would not have been stored in the manner they were. He gave Marasli some credit for his guilty plea which was reduced because he had waited until the trial date and took into account that he was being pursued by HMRC for non Payment of the Duty on the seized goods.
Tottenham Express had previously been subject to a Licence Review over the incident where additional Licence Conditions were imposed by the Licensing Committee and the shop was suspended from making alcohol sales for one month.
Tottenham trader caught with illegal alcohol
1 November 2016 - Tottenham trader Anit Patel pleaded guilty to one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in relation to offering to supply vodka with fake UK Duty labels. Patel was fined £160 by the Court and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,695.
The Court Heard that Trading Standards had visited Costcutter at 824-828 High Road, Tottenham during October 2015 accompanied by Officers of HMRC. An inspection had revealed the vodka being offered for sale with fake labels indicating that Duty had been paid giving the impression the goods were legal to sell where they were not.
Patel who had entered a not guilty plea at an earlier hearing was given credit for his late guilty plea. His Solicitor stated in mitigation that he had previously been of good character and that the outstanding Duty had been repaid to HMRC.
The court also heard that Patel had previously been subject to a Licence Review over the incident and that additional conditions had been imposed on his Licence.
Bounds Green trader just can’t stop selling illicit tobacco!
26 October 2016 - Haydar Erdogan the Manager of Firat Supermarket trading from 38 Bounds Green Road, London N11 2EU pleaded guilty to 14 offences under the Consumer Protection Act, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations and the Licensing Act 2003 at Tottenham Magistrates Court. He was fined £120 and ordered to pay Prosecution costs of £5,835.
The Court heard that Haydar Erdogan was employed by his brother to manage his shop and that Trading Standards Officers had visited the premises on three occasions to carry out checks on the products on sale.
On the first visit on 10 May 2016 Trading Standards discovered a large quantity of foreign cigarettes and tobacco with incorrect health warnings. Some was kept hidden behind the counter with a further cache found behind a panel under a shelving unit in a shop aisle. Altogether 170 packet of cigarettes and 49 pouches of hand rolling tobacco were seized.
On 12 July 2016 a second visit was made to the shop by Trading Standards, this time accompanied by HMRC officers. Despite prior warnings to cease the trade in illegal cigarettes further cigarettes were found and seized by Trading Standards. These totalled 97 packets of cigarettes and 26 pouches of hand rolling tobacco. Again the shop was warned to stop selling illegal products.
A third visit on 26 July 2016 by Trading Standards, this time with Police revealed a hidden compartment behind a cabinet in the shop where further illegal cigarettes were found to be stored for supply. On this occasion 25 packets of cigarettes were seized together with 4 pouches of hand rolling tobacco.
During investigation irregularities in the Licence were discovered which resulted in a fourth visit to the shop on 29 July 2016 where the shop was ordered to stop selling alcohol.
In mitigation counsel on behalf of Haydar Erdogan told the Court that Erdogan took full responsibility for goods in the shop and that his brother who was in fact the owner and director was not aware that the illegal goods were there. Prior to passing sentence the Court were made aware of two previous cautions that Haydar Erdogan had received for relevant Trading Standards Offences.
Seven Sisters Off Licence Fined
28 September 2016 - A Haringey Trader was fined a total of £900 and ordered to pay costs of £200 for stocking illegal cigarettes at his off licence in a case brought by Haringey Trading Standards.
Ozcan Albay, 43, who trades as Seven Sisters Off Licence from 627 Seven Sisters Road N15 pleaded Guilty at Tottenham Magistrates Court on 28 September 2016 to one count under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and one count under the Licensing Act 2003 in relation to 680 foreign cigarettes found at his shop. The cigarettes were not Duty Paid and did not have the correct UK health warnings on them.
The Court heard that Trading Standards had visited the off licence in April 2016, working in partnership with officers of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). During the inspection officers found the cigarettes hidden in spirits gift boxes behind the counter.
Mr Albay told the Court through his Counsel that he was very sorry for the offences and had not imported the cigarettes himself.
In passing sentence the Magistrates took into account his early guilty plea. He was fined £700 for the offence under the Consumer Protection Act and £200 for an offence under the Licensing Act. In addition, he was ordered to contribute £200 towards prosecution costs and a £70 victim surcharge. The cigarettes were ordered to be destroyed by the Court.
Fine For Tottenham Trader Caught with Illegal Tobacco
14 September 2016 - A Haringey Trader was fined a total of £1,520 and ordered to pay costs of £564 for stocking illegal cigarettes at his Tottenham shop, in a case brought by Haringey Trading Standards.
Longming Yan, 33, who trades as Yao Yao Supermarket from 37 Broad Lane, London, N15 4DJ pleaded Guilty at Tottenham Magistrates Court on 14 September 2016 to one count under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and one count under the Licensing Act 2003 in relation to over 40,000 Chinese branded cigarettes found at his shop which were not Duty Paid and did not have the correct UK health warnings on them.
The Court heard that Trading Standards had visited the Tottenham food shop in April 2016 working in partnership with officers of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Whilst on the premises the officers discovered Chinese branded cigarettes behind the counter of the shop ready for sale. A wider search revealed much larger quantities stored in the basement of the shop.
Mr Yan told the Court that he was very sorry about the matter and it was his first and last time doing such things!
In passing Sentence the Magistrates took into account his early guilty plea and the fact that the shop was a small business. They ordered the full amount of £2,084 which included fines, costs and a victim surcharge to be paid within 14 days.
Street Trader Fined for Selling Counterfeit Tobacco in Wood Green
31 August 2016 - A street trader was fined £400 and ordered to pay £150 costs for selling counterfeit and illicit tobacco on the streets of Wood Green in a case brought by Haringey Trading Standards.
Min Fang in his early thirties of Forest Hill, London, pleaded guilty to a total of three offences at Tottenham Magistrates Court. The first in relation to counterfeit tobacco brought under the Trade Marks Act 1994, a second for offering cigarettes with incorrect health warnings contrary to the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and a third for an offence under the London Local Authorities Act 1990 for street trading without a Licence on High Road N22.
The Court heard that Fang had been spotted by a Metropolitan Police Officer on 28 August 2015 selling tobacco to shoppers on the High Road in Wood Green and was duly arrested.
The case was then passed over to Trading Standards for further investigation. Samples of the rolling tobacco were examined and found to be a counterfeit copies of the Golden Virginia brand. Fang was subsequently offered an opportunity to be interviewed but failed to attend.
In passing sentence the Magistrates took into account Fang’s previous good character and his remorse. He told the Court through his Solicitor that he was not currently in regular employment but the prospects ahead look good. In addition to his fine and costs Fang was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and a Collection order was made.
Don't Burger up your Bank Holiday
26 August 2016 - See the Food Standard Agency's advice "Don't burger up your Bank Holiday" (external link) for tips on how to barbeque safely over the bank holiday weekend.
Tottenham Traders face Licence Suspensions for Stocking Illicit Tobacco and Alcohol
18 August 2016 - Two Tottenham off licenses are each facing one month Alcohol Licence Suspensions following a meeting of Haringey’s Licensing Sub Committee on 18 August 2016 following Licence Review applications brought by Haringey’s Trading Standards Service.
The Committee heard that in April 2016 Trading Standards had visited Seven Sisters Off Licence at 627 Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham, London N15 accompanied by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and discovered illicit foreign cigarettes which were illegal to sell in the UK. The Committee found that these cigarettes were on the Premises for sale and that criminal activity had taken place. They noted that this was the second time that illicit tobacco had been found on the premises with a previous visit in 2015 resulting in a Simple Caution and a variation made to the premises licence conditions aimed at preventing the storage of illegal cigarettes.
The Committee were satisfied that there had been a clear and deliberate failure by the licence holder to uphold the Licensing objectives of the Prevention of Crime and Disorder and public safety and a breach of a condition of the licence.
In passing judgment the Committee resolved to:
- Modify the conditions of the licence to strengthen the requirements on the storage of tobacco products in the manner recommended by Trading Standards
- To suspend the licence for a period of 1 month
- To require the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) to undergo DPS training in his first language before the end of the period of suspension as they were not certain he understood his responsibilities fully.
In a second case the Committee heard that in February 2016 Trading Standards and HMRC had visited the premises of Tottenham Express situated at 591 High Road, Tottenham , London N17 6SB. There they discovered quantities of illicit tobacco concealed under the sales counter of the premises. Officers also discovered alcoholic spirits which had not been duty paid.
During the hearing the committee noted that they did not find the account given by the owner of the shop that the cigarettes were there for personal use credible and they stated that the evidence concurred with the Trading Standards view that it was the general day to day practice of the shop to provide for sale illicit tobacco and alcohol.
The committee decided that in this case criminal activity had taken place and there was a clear and deliberate failure of the licence holder to promote the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety.
In passing judgement the committee resolved to modify the conditions of the licence of Tottenham Express to incorporate stronger requirements on the storage of cigarettes and to impose requirements on where alcohol could be purchased from with enhanced record keeping requirements.
They also resolved to suspend the Premises Licence for one month.
In both cases the Premises Licence Holders have 21 days to appeal before the decision takes effect.
Viagra and Tobacco seized from Haringey car boot sale
31 July 2016 - Trading Standards visited the Sunday car boot sale in White Hart Lane this weekend to tackle the sale of illegal goods.
Two street traders were identified selling illegal tobacco and approximately £2,500 worth of tobacco was seized. Trading Standards are currently working with benefit fraud investigators in relation to these individuals.
A further two traders were identified working within the car boot sale selling Viagra which is a controlled drug available only on prescription. Viagra valued at approximately £2,500 which was suspected to be counterfeit was seized and officers will be working with The Medicines and Healthcare products Agency in relation to this matter.
Illicit Tobacco Seized in Raids By Trading Standards
26 July 2016 - Trading Standards working in partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) carried out seven visits to shops in the Tottenham and Wood Green area. Five of the shops were found to be stocking illicit and counterfeit tobacco.
Altogether over 4,000 cigarettes and 15kg of hand rolling tobacco was seized most of which is suspected of being counterfeit.
The total value of the lost Duty on seized cigarettes and tobacco was in the region of £5,000
Trading Standards will investigate criminal offences in relation to the failure to supply goods with the correct health warnings, the storage of smuggled goods on licensed premises and offences under the Trade Marks Act in relation to counterfeit tobacco products.
The supply of counterfeit tobacco is a particular concern as this product is made without proper quality control and could contain contaminants.
Haringey Trader Fined For Stocking Illegal goods
6 July 2016 - A Haringey Trader was fined a total of £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £917 for stocking illegal alcohol at his Tottenham Off Licence
Ramanathan Sivasubramaniam, 66 who trades as Venus 8 Off Licence from 102 West Green Road Tottenham N15 pleaded Guilty at Tottenham Magistrates Court on 6 July 2016 to four counts under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in relation to Teachers Whisky, High Commissioner Whisky, Bells Whisky and Glens Vodka all of which bore fake labels containing fake UK Duty Stamps.
The Court heard that although the products themselves were genuine they were not intended for sale in the UK and the labels had been altered to give the impression they were legal to sell in the UK when they were not as the Duty had not been paid.
Mr Sivasubramaniam told the Court that the problem had occurred because he had failed to supervise his son properly and there had been a breakdown in communications over the stock. He also added that he had since repaid the outstanding Duty owed to HMRC and had paid a penalty to them.
In passing Sentence the Magistrates took into account his early guilty plea and ordered the full amount be paid within 28 days.
Off Licence fined £6,000 over Illicit Tobacco and Alcohol
8 June 2016 - On 8 June 2016 a local trader was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £890 by Haringey Magistrates for stocking illicit tobacco and alcohol at his Tottenham off Licence in a case brought by Haringey Trading Standards.
Zeynel Gunduz 45 pleaded guilty to three offences at Tottenham Magistrates Court, two under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 for which he was fined £1,500 each and one under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for which he was fined £3,000. He was also asked to pay the councils full costs of £894.80 and £120 Victim Surcharge.
The Court heard that Haringey Trading Standards officers supported by colleagues from Islington had visited Tilson Stores at 40 Tilson Road N17 on 25 November 2015 with sniffer dogs as part of Operation Henry 2 - a National operation to crack down on the supply of illicit tobacco and alcohol.
Officers assisted by the dogs discovered 5,000 foreign cigarettes and fifty 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco which were not Duty Paid and had incorrect foreign language health warnings on them. The tobacco was found underneath the counter with further stocks discovered in a room at the back of the premises.
A further search revealed 9 bottles of High Commissioner Whisky which officers discovered had had fake rear labels with fake UK Duty Stamps applied to them giving the impression that the products were legal to sell in the UK when they were not.
Mr Gunduz the Director and Premises Licence Holder told the Court that he accepted the responsibility as the owner of the shop for what had gone on there. He stated that an employee bought the alcohol from a local cash and carry but had not checked the stock properly.
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