Brighton & Hove City Council’s trading standards team is warning local retailers to beware of buying cheap but potentially lethal wines or spirits from unauthorised traders in the run up to Christmas.
The warning follows a recent investigation across the south east that revealed that 20% of retail premises inspected were selling spirits or wines that were either counterfeit, had no duty paid or fake duty stamps or had incorrect origin labelling.
This cheap alcohol, as well as being of poor quality, could cause blindness or even death.
The council’s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, said, “Most illicit alcohol is sold to retailers by unauthorised traders in unmarked vans who turn up at the retail outlet offering cheap wines and spirits.
“Retailers need to understand that they can be held responsible for any health or other problems caused by selling illicit alcohol. It could also get them into trouble with the tax authorities.”
The south-east wide investigation looked at counterfeit spirits, particularly vodka and whisky, counterfeit and fake Champagne, spirits that were not as described or had false duty stamps or labelling errors, and Italian wines being sold at a price indicative of non payment of duty and VAT.
The investigation was carried out by trading standards officers working with Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs and local licensing officers.
In Brighton & Hove trading standards officers are continuing to work with Sussex Police and HMRC to tackle the trade in illegal alcohol within the city. There is a legal requirement for retailers to prove to trading standards where they get their stock from by producing invoices.
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Brighton & Hove City Council