Off-licences caught in Christmas fake alcohol blitz

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A CRACKDOWN on fake and illicit alcohol on sale in Warwickshire, carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service revealed problems with 20 per cent of retailers visited at random across the area.

Trading Standards Officers visited 34 off-licence premises across Warwickshire as part of a CEnTSA regional project designed to identify and remove counterfeit and non-duty paid alcohol from the market place.

The premises were all chosen at random and were located in Nuneaton, Bedworth, Rugby, Kenilworth and Stratford upon Avon.

Warwickshire Trading Standards seized 175 bottles of spirits from seven off-licences. Only retailers in Stratford upon Avon presented no problems.

Whilst some of the bottles were believed to be fake, many were suspected to be illicit (duty evaded) with false back labels or fake duty stamps.

Duty evaded spirits are those that should have been exported but are sold in the UK with fake labels to give the false impression that duty has been paid on them.

Brands that were seized included High Commissioner scotch whisky, Danoff vodka, Glens vodka and Checkov vodka.

Further investigations are being conducted and Warwickshire Trading Standards are working with both the brand holders and Customs & Excise.

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection, said: “Fake alcohol has the potential to be very harmful and businesses selling these illegal products put the health of consumers at risk. Criminal gangs risk their own lives by running illegal distilleries and the public could end up purchasing full priced bottles that contain industrial solvents.”

“We will continue to crack down on the trade in illegal alcohol that also puts the livelihoods of genuine traders at risk.”

Investigations are continuing and prosecutions may follow.

Consumers who think they may have purchased counterfeit or illicit spirits should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.