A Spalding shopkeeper has vowed to take licensing authorities to court as he faces the threat of losing his right to sell alcohol in the town.
Saman Mahmood, owner of Nasza Biedronka in Sheep Market, claimed there was “not enough proof” to link him with 2,240 illegal cigarettes found during a joint raid by police and trading standards officers last year.
At a meeting on Friday, South Holland District Council’s licensing panel revoked Mr Mahmood’s licence to sell alcohol at the shop after police and Lincolnshire County Council Trading Standards presented evidence of what they claimed was “unacceptable criminality” taking place at the shop.
Sgt Kim Enderby of Lincolnshire Police said: “For six months, these premises had been in breach of its licensing conditions, every time they opened and every time they sold alcohol.
“It’s unacceptable criminality, using the shop as a front.”
During the hearing, a panel of three district councillors heard that suspicions about the sale of illegal cigarettes at the shop dated back to May 2014 after trading standards officers had received “a series of intelligence reports“.
But the December 2 raid was only given the go-ahead after a “covert test purchasing operation” on November 16 when a trading standards officer bought a packet of illegal cigarettes for just £5, compared to a normal price in shops of “close to £9”.
Kirsty Herbertson of Lincolnshire Trading Standards said: “On December 2, there was a of a very large quantity of (tobacco) products which didn’t conform to UK standards.
“The cigarettes were found hanging outside the window (of the upstairs toilet of the shop) and inside the shop.
“A business that’s run in a legitimate and legal way doesn’t feel the need to hang illicit and illegal wares outside a window.”
A business that’s run in a legitimate and legal way doesn’t feel the need to hang illicit and illegal wares outside a windowKirsty Herbertson of Lincolnshire Trading Standards
After the hearing, Mr Mahmood told the Free Press: “I’m going to appeal because my barrister explained to the panel that there wasn’t enough proof that the illegal cigarettes belonged to me.
“if I lose the licence, I’ll slow down in trade and lose money which means that I can’t afford to employ people and they’ll have to go.”