A family-run post office and general store in Brighton has had its licence to sell alcohol suspended.
Lower Bevendean Post Office, in Leybourne Parade, Taunton Road, Brighton, had its licence suspended for three months after it was caught stocking counterfeit vodka.
The licence was held by a company called Teshco, run by Kalpaneban Patel, 53, her son Mitesh Patel, 30, and his wife Hema, 26, all of Brangwyn Avenue, Brighton.
A Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel was told that Catriona MacBeth, a trading standards officer, found fake vodka on sale at the store in April.
The Patels had no invoice relating to the vodka although the law requires them to have one.
Superintendent Steve Whitton, of Sussex Police, said in a statement: “There is a problem in the city with premises selling illegal alcohol.”
He said that trading standards and the police were working with Revenue and Customs to tackle the problem.
He added: “Sussex Police support the review application by trading standards and, in view of the serious nature of the crime associated with this premises, support the request for the revocation of the premises licence.”
The panel was told that in February last year a staff member was also fined for selling four cans of lager to a 15-year-old.
Martin Cray, the solicitor for the Patel family, said: “There is no evidence that they were knowingly involved in the possession of the counterfeit vodka.”
He said that the vodka had just been delivered and not even checked by Mr Patel.
Mr Cray said that Mr Patel had asked for an invoice from the supplier, Always4U, of Cambridge Road, Hove, but had not received one.
Mr Patel said that the man who delivered the vodka, called Max, had been avoiding him. He added though that he had seen him in the cash and carry yesterday (Wednesday 5 October).
Mr Patel said that he had ordered vodka from Always4U only once before.
He said that he normally stocked Smirnoff but Always4U delivered some small bottles labelled Glen too, saying that the smaller Smirnoff bottles were out of stock. The Glen and Smirnoff turned out to be counterfeit.
Councillor Ollie Sykes, chairman of the panel, said that the licence would have a number of conditions attached after the suspension ended.
Always4U faces a criminal trial in December for supplying counterfeit alcohol.
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