A SHOPKEEPER accused of selling single cigarettes to children has lost his licence to sell alcohol at his Breightmet store – but he denies all charges.

Bolton Council has revoked Zeashan Muhammad Din’s premises licence for AHZ News in Sandhurst Drive ahead of a court hearing later this month.

This comes after trading standards officers visited the shop in March 2019 with a tobacco detection dog and seized 24 packets of cigarettes and seven packets of hand rolling tobacco, some of which were found to be counterfeit.

The local authority also received regular reports about Mr Din, including some “intelligence” accusing him of selling single cigarettes to children, since 2016 when he pleaded guilty to selling illicit tobacco and was made to pay £5,800.

But Mr Din’s legal representative told councillors at a hearing on Wednesday that he has pleaded not guilty to the latest charges brought against him.

Mr Tufail said: “These cigarettes were for personal use. There are normally three members of staff there including his son, himself and another member of staff. They all smoke cigarettes. They all smoke tobacco. There were approximately 20 to 25 packets there. These were all for personal use.

“There is nothing to suggest here that they were being sold. There’s no intelligence. No observations were made of anybody going into the store and purchasing any cigarettes in this occasion.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that my client was selling any counterfeit cigarettes here. He wants to make that case as robustly as possible.”

Mr Din said that his brother brought the cigarettes back with him from Holland where he had been around three weeks before the inspection last year.

He claimed his brother brought the open packets of Richmond and Lambert and Butler cigarettes found under the counter while the Chesterfield, Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf packets were old and open before.

Mr Din was asked why the open packets were kept under the counter.

Translating from Urdu, Mr Tufail said: “If he put them in his jeans, because he’s sitting down most of the day, they would break.

“It’s easily accessible there to just take it out and then just go outside.”

Mr Tufail questioned the credibility of the “intelligence” received by the council and asked why it had taken years for officers to inspect the shop.

Trading standards officer Liam Kelly did not know whether enforcement activities had taken place at the premises previously, but admitted that if there had been a search, then “presumably” nothing was found at the shop.

He said: “Each item of intelligence would have a different strength and reliability.

“But just checking through this list, some have come via the police, some direct from parents and it’s repeated year on year –the same sort of information from different sources.”

The licensing sub-committee revoked the premises licence.

A magistrate’s court hearing is set to take place in three weeks.