A LEIGH shopkeeper has been found guilty of selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco following an investigation by Wigan Council Trading Standards.

Asad Khan, owner of Leigh Discount Store UK Ltd,f Railway Road, served an undercover Trading Standards officer in July last year. A subsequent raid of the premises revealed a cache of cigarettes and tobacco hidden in a compartment cut into a staircase.

Altogether, 1,280 cigarettes and 1.2Kg tobacco were seized. All the goods were foreign labelled and most were found to be poor quality fakes.

Khan was charged with three offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 relating to counterfeits; and of two offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 relating to the illegal sale of foreign labelled tobacco products.

After pleading guilty at Wigan Magistrates' Court, Khan was fined £250 for the five offences, a reduction which took into account an early guilty plea. He was also ordered to pay £375 in costs and £15 victim surcharge.

Chief Trading Standards Officer, Julie Middlehurst, said: “After receiving credible information we launched an investigation which has resulted in this successful prosecution.

“This is not a victimless crime. Not only are illegal and counterfeit goods potentially harmful and hazardous, they can also end up in the hands of children and young people as a result of the unscrupulous and criminal behaviour of a minority of irresponsible retailers.”

Welcoming the news, Leigh Councillor Cllr Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s cabinet champion for safer neighbourhoods and the environment, said: “This prosecution sends out a clear message that the sale of illegal and fake goods of any type will not be tolerated.

“The black market harms our local neighbourhoods in a number of ways, by fuelling criminal activity, threatening livelihoods and putting legitimate retailers out of business.

“We are grateful for the valuable leads we receive urge people to come forward with information of any suspicious activity.”

If you suspect somebody of selling illegal or counterfeit goods, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.