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Shop loses licence over illegal tobacco

10:00am Saturday 28th January 2012 in News By David Wiles

Description: Tatras newsagents

AN OFF-LICENCE and newsagent which sold UK duty-free and counterfeit tobacco had its licence revoked by Swindon Council’s licensing committee yesterday.

Tatras, in Victoria Road, Town Centre, was found to have the cigarettes and loose tobacco hidden in a cupboard and below confectionery on shelving.

Trading Standards officers also seized £1,500 in cash in a paper bag under the counter, which they claim was linked to the sale of illegal products.

Yesterday the licensing committee followed a recommendation to revoke the shop’s licence, meaning it will no longer be able to sell alcohol.

The decision will take effect in 21 days, providing the premises licence holder, Shorish Hamid Mustafa, does not first appeal to magistrates, in which case there will be no change until the outcome of the case.

Russell Sharland, of Trading Standards, said: “The licensing objective of preventing crime and disorder has been deliberately breached over an extended period.

“This is aggravated by the sale of counterfeit product, rather than simply smuggled product, where there can be serious public health consequences.

“Mr Mustafa ignored previous advice and guidance and chose to lie to officers both at the time of the inspection and during the interview under caution.”

Mr Sharland said Trading Standards obtained evidence on September 11, September 18, September 25 and October 2 that Tatras had sold foreign-labelled, non-UK duty paid cigarettes.

In an interview, Mr Mustafa said acquaintances had tried to persuade him for some time to sell illegal tobacco, but he had only decided to do so in the week before the inspection.

He estimated that, overall, he had sold about £40 to £60 worth of illegal tobacco a day, charging as an example, £4 to £4.50 for 20 Marlboro cigarettes, instead of the genuine price of £7.19.

He said the bag of cash was from normal shop takings and would be spent at the cash and carry.

Mr Mustafa said: “I did a big mistake and I’m sorry.”

Mr Mustafa said all his accounts were legitimate, adding that although he paid his staff cash, his accountant sorted out the appropriate tax and VAT.

Coun Vera Tomlinson, chairman of the licensing panel, said the panel agreed there was evidence of the illegal sale of tobacco and poor management practices.

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