A Brighton off-licence has had its licence revoked after being caught selling illicit wine and vodka.
Tipple, in Queen’s Road, Brighton, was found to be selling fake Jacob’s Creek in March – and Glens vodka on which duty did not appear to have been paid.
A visit in July found almost 250 bottles of fake or smuggled vodka, including 42 bottles of Troika vodka and 204 bottles of Admiral vodka.
The Admiral vodka was sent for analysis and found to contain high levels of methanol.
Separately Revenue and Customs seized 552 bottles of wine after the licensee Koray Tatlidede, of Addison Road, Hove, could not provide invoices for them to show that duty had been paid.
He has since been asked to pay £1,279 duty.
The reason given was to prevent crime and disorder.
A licensing panel heard from John Peerless, head of trading standards, that Mr Tatlidede had since worked with officials to try to ensure that licensing rules were observed.
‘Fall from grace’
He appeared to be the only designated premises supervisor (DPS) at Tipple where it was a condition of his licence that a DPS should be present when alcohol was sold. The shop was licensed from 9am to midnight every day.
He admitted dividing his time between Tipple and his other off-licence, Booze Factor in Lewes Road.
Solicitor Nicholas Perkins, representing Mr Tatlidede, said that no problems had arisen from inspections at Booze Factor.
He described the licensing law breaches at Tipple as a “fall from grace” and said: “My client was using an established wholesaler. He wasn’t using ‘white van man’.”
Mr Tatlidede said that he had placed one order with a driver called Alex, who worked for a wholesaler called Always 4 U. It turned out – after the delivery – that Alex no longer worked for the wholesaler.
Mr Perkins said that no invoice had been received and the order had not been paid for and the stock was in the basement and not being offered for sale.
He said that some of the problems had arisen when Mr Tatlidede’s mother was ill with cancer.
Mr Perkins said that this was not an excuse but added: “It may explain why there has been some confusion.”
The licensing panel was reminded that the off-licence owner had a legal duty to have invoices to enable drinks to be traceable.
Councillor Ollie Sykes, the panel chairman, said that there had been more than one breach of the rules.
The Licensing Act guidance suggests that selling smuggled alcohol should be treated particularly seriously and “even in the first instance revocation of the premises licence is appropriate where the premises have been used for the sale of smuggled alcohol”.
Councillor Ollie Sykes, the panel chairman, said: “Availability of counterfeit and illicit alcohol is a huge problem in Brighton and Hove and counters directly the licensing objective of prevention of crime and disorder.”
He was speaking on behalf of a panel that included Councillor Pete West and Councillor Mo Marsh, and added: “We have heard that compliance at the premises with effect to maintaining a refusals book, selling strong beer and maintaining a training record had improved following a visit by trading standards and the police in July 2011.
“However, following non-compliance noted in March 2011, namely the sale of counterfeit and illicit alcohol, we have seen repetition of this breach in July 2011 on a significant scale.
“Issues of traceability of alcohol remain and in addition to this it is the responsibility of the premises licence holder to take steps to ensure he/she is not selling counterfeit or illicit alcohol.
“The Secretary of State’s guidance lists certain criminal activity which may arise in connection with licensed premises which it is considered should be treated particularly seriously.
“This list includes the use of the premises for the sale of smuggled alcohol and the guidance indicates that revocation is appropriate even in the first instance of a breach of this nature.
“It is the panel’s duty to take steps to promote the licensing objectives in the interests of the wider community and not those of the individual premises licence holder.
“We have considered all the options open to us, in particular the suspension of the premises licence for a limited period.
“However, from the evidence we have heard today, the panel does not have confidence in the premises licence holder’s ability to promote the licensing objectives and has therefore decided in this instance that it is necessary to revoke the premises licence.”
Mr Tatlidede has 21 days to appeal against the panel’s decision.