Express & Star

Mini market that sold illegal tobacco and cost taxpayer £1.5m in tax and duty is told to shut down

A Brierley Hill shop has been ordered to close after being caught selling illegal tobacco products.

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High Street Mini Market at 36 High Street will be closed for a minimum of three months after an investigation by Dudley Council’s trading standards.

The store first opened in 2019 and has been the subject of 11 separate seizures of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco products, Dudley Council said.

Illegal products were found hidden in the ceiling and in an abandoned vehicle and the council estimated that the shop has cost the taxpayer around £1.5million in non-payment of duties and tax.

Following the discoveries, and warnings issued, trading standards issued a closure notice on May 15; and on May 16 Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court issued a temporary closure order so a full hearing could be heard.

On May 24, the court found in favour of the council's application and granted the closure order for three months, with the option to extend for another three months if necessary.

Dr Mayada Abuaffan, Dudley's director of public health, said: "It’s estimated that this shop has cost the taxpayer approximately £1.5 million in non-payment of duties and tax. This is a staggering amount and gives the proprietor an unfair financial advantage over those shops who are doing a legitimate trade.

"Our trading standards officers will do everything in their power to bring illegal trading in our borough to a halt."