SEVEN shop owners will be hauled before licensing chiefs and face losing their right to operate their businesses after an undercover sting caught them selling illegal tobacco to covert officers.

Licensing review panels are being convened for Bolton Polish Shop, in Derby Street; Best One/Lever Street Convenience in Lever Street, Great Lever; Royle News, Bury Road, Breightmet; Booze Brothers in Tonge Moor Road; Biedrona (Baso Foods) in Deane Road; Ramiros Mini Market, St Helens Road, Daubhill, and M&M Mini-Market, Halliwell Road

They were visited last July or August and allegedly caught selling illegal tobacco products, some counterfeit.

Notices have been pinned up outside Bolton Town Hall giving interested parties a chance to make representation before the hearings take place.

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If the owners’ licence is revoked by the panel, it means the shop is no longer allowed to operate.

A council spokesman said “Selling illicit tobacco and other counterfeit goods is a serious crime which affects communities and legitimate businesses.

“We regularly review the licenses of businesses to make sure that they are meeting their licensing obligations.

“Buying or selling illegal cigarettes is not a victimless crime and consumers should think long and hard before knowingly purchasing these products.”

Bolton Polish Shop was targeted last August after a surveillance officer posing as a customer asked to buy rolling tobacco. A member of staff is said to have got the pouch from outside the store and which was not in plain packaging.

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“The product was not in plain packaging and was also counterfeit,” states the notice.

Illicit tobacco was also said to being sold at the other stores.

Biedrona and M&M Mini-Market were said to be caught handing over counterfeit tobacco, whereas at Ramiros hand-rolling tobacco purchased was said to be meant for the Luxembourg market. Officers say at Best One in Lever Street cigarettes sold were not in plain packaging and believed to be counterfeit.

Royle News is accused of selling obviously suspect cigarettes and at Booze Brothers an operative is said to have been sold a £6 pouch of Amber Leaf hand-rolling tobacco which the seller fetched from a back room.

The product was not in plain packaging and was also counterfeit, stated the notice.