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Illegal fags a drag for shop owner

A BURDETT ROAD shop owner has been fined £10,000 for possessing illegal cigarettes – and was ordered to pay Tower Hamlets Council’s legal costs too, estimated at around £3,000. The fine came after the Council prosecuted Oho LT, the company which ran Oho Eastern and Local Food in Burdett Road. The case was heard at Thames Magistrates Court on 5th January.

The Council’s trading standards officers raided the shop’s premises last April. They found a number of legal tobacco products were on sale, but with the assistance of sniffer dogs they found 700 cigarettes hidden behind the counter. These did not have the correct health warnings on them as required by UK law.

The shop owner was found guilty of storing the cigarettes, with the Judge commenting that although the amount of illegal cigarettes was quite small, he had no doubt that “once sold, this amount would be replaced with fresh stock.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “We are working hard to combat the sale of illegal goods in Tower Hamlets, and this is another excellent example of our trading standards team bringing a shop owner to task. The sale of illegal goods puts the health and safety of our residents at risk. We will not tolerate individuals or groups who are willing to do this, especially for financial gain, and will use all the powers available to make sure these items are removed from our streets and the owners are prosecuted.”

Councillor Shiria Khatun, Cabinet Member for Community Safety echoed John Biggs’s words, saying: “The dishonesty in this case shows the lengths people will go to profit from illegal goods. A fine of £10,000 will hopefully make the shop owners and others think twice about committing offences like these.”

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