Burnley shopkeeper 'tried to hide' fake tobacco

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: One of the hiding places discovered by trading standards and used to store illegal tobacco products One of the hiding places discovered by trading standards and used to store illegal tobacco products

A BURNLEY shopkeeper found guilty of selling illegal tobacco products tried to hide the goods in a secret compartment underneath a gas cooker.

Trading standards officers discovered 186 fake products during two visits to the A-Z Off-licence, in Raglan Road, in February and April this year.

Owner Asif Javed, who tried to convince inspectors that he no longer managed the business, was ordered to pay more than £2,000 by Reedley Magistrates’ Court.

The haul included brands such as Jin Ling and Raquel, which are specifically manufactured for sale on the black market. Javed’s conviction – his third for selling counterfeit goods – comes as hundreds of fake tobacco products were seized by trading standards officers at five other shops in Burnley and Pendle in the last fortnight.

Around 400 packets of tobacco and 36 bottles of vodka were discovered during inspections launched after tip-offs by members of the public. The joint operation, by Lancashire police and Lancashire County Council, also led to the discovery of 36 bottles of untaxed vodka.

The county council said the tobacco was a mixture of counterfeit products and foreign packets for which import duty had not been paid and health warnings were not in English.

The vodka, including the brands Glen’s and Belusow, were legitimate products but had not been intended to be sold on the UK market.

Officers suspect the original labels had been replaced to falsely show that import duty had been paid.

County Councillor Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection, said: “We are committed to helping genuine Lancashire businesses and protecting our residents from cheap illegal tobacco and illicit alcohol.”

The council refused to name the five premises but said prosecutions could be brought.

No one has been charged at present.

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