Fined £1,500 for selling counterfeit vodka in city bar

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A Londonderry trader selling counterfeit and under strength vodka was fined £1,500 at the city’s magistrates’ court on Thursday.

In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department for the Economy, M, C & A Trading Ltd, trading as the Castle Bar, Waterloo Street, Londonderry, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and one charge under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

In November 2015, Trading Standards officers as part of a Europe-wide exercise into counterfeit food and drink, inspected the premises where they found suspected counterfeit Smirnoff vodka displayed for sale and stored in the bar area.

Subsequent examination by a representative for the trademark holder confirmed labels, closures and the vodka to be counterfeit. Further testing revealed that the spirit could not be legally classified as vodka as its alcohol strength was found to be 32.4% rather than the legal minimum requirement of 37.5%.

Nicholas Lane, of the Trading Standards Service, said: “Customers pay good money for a branded item. This was counterfeit and under strength. Counterfeit spirits are frequently made and bottled in unhygienic conditions with no quality control. In this case the Trade Mark representative expressed concern at the poor visual clarity of, and the presence of particles in, the bottles of spirit he examined.”

Anyone who believes they have been sold counterfeit goods should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 or www.nidirect.gov.uk/consumerline.