Aug 26 2011 By Dan Coombs
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THE licensee at two convenience stores who sold counterfeit wine and champagne - even spelling 'Australia' incorrectly- has been banned from selling alcohol.
The bottles were so badly faked that even a sticker urging purchasers to 'drink responsibly' had been misspelled.
Pal Kapoor, licence holder at West Drayton Food and Wine, and Best Food and Wine, both in Station Road, West Drayton, was given 21 days to appeal the decision.
He was hauled before Hillingdon Council's licensing panel on Thursday, after a joint operation discovered 153 litres of spirits, 127 litres of wine and 340 cigarettes in his stores all to be fake.
The HMRC established that more than £2,000 of tax duty would have been unpaid on the spirits.
A thorough investigation was taken with checks taken with the trademark holders of Jacob's Creek and Bollinger which confirmed the bottles were counterfeit.
In addition to misspelling, colouring and embossing of the packaging were inconsistent with genuine bottles.
At the licensing sub-committee meeting, Mr Kapoor, who originally gave a no comment interview to trading standards, claimed the alcohol had been offered to him by ‘a man in a white van’, was a one-off purchase and was the result of bowing to ‘the pressure of other premises in the borough doing similar things’.
However the committee voted unanimously in favour of revoking the licence in light of the seriousness of the offences.
Police, HMRC officers and trading standards officers from Hillingdon Council carried out sting operations in April and June, netting a haul of counterfeit alcohol and tobacco from locations across West Drayton and Hayes.
Two more stores appear before Hillingdon Council's licensing committee on September 1.
Ian Meens, licensing sergeant, said: “I’m very pleased with the result. There are more such operations by the police and trading standards in the pipeline.
"Shopkeepers that sell these types of products are putting the public at risk and anyone with suspicions should report them."
Councillor Andrew Retter, licensing sub committee chairman, said: "Hillingdon Council supports its shop keepers and will continue to do so through many different programs because we recognise that the economy is not good but if a shop keeper fundamentally breaks the law we will not support them and will take action. I hope this sends out a clear message to refrain from such acts."