A SHOPKEEPER has been prosecuted and fined for selling illegal tobacco at a Bolton newsagents.

Mr Abdul Khaliq Randera initially pleaded not guilty to charges contravening The Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016, before changing his plea to guilty at Bolton Magistrates Court on September 22.

The court heard that trading standards officers, police officers and a specialist dog handler visited Willows News, Willows Lane, Deane, on December 5, 2019, following a tip-off from local residents.

More than 1,500 packets of cigarettes and 165 pouches of suspected of illegal tobacco were found in the back of the shop as well as under the till.

They were seized by officers and taken away for further inspection.

It was confirmed that some of the samples sent for analysis were in fact counterfeit and some of the samples were genuine but non-UK duty paid and therefore not legal for sale in the UK.

The business was fined £1,050, and Mr Randera was fined £700 and ordered to pay £600 costs.

Bolton Council deputy leader Cllr Hilary Fairclough said: “We are committed to stopping the sale of illegal tobacco in Bolton, and we do not hesitate in taking legal action against anyone involved in supplying such substances.

“Thanks to the joint working of our trading standards officers and the police, we have successfully prosecuted this shopkeeper.

“Selling illegal tobacco puts the health of our communities at risk and I urge anyone with information about this criminal activity to inform the council.”

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco in Bolton can contact trading.standards@bolton.gov.uk. All information will be treated confidentially.

Illegal tobacco is tobacco which does not comply with the requirements of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (not labelled with a combined health warning) or the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 (packages not in the permitted colour or shade). The counterfeit products are contrary to The Trade Marks Act 1994.