Hartlepool minimarket closed down after repeated illegal tobacco raids

The Baltic Mini Market that has been closed. Picture by FRANK REID
The Baltic Mini Market that has been closed. Picture by FRANK REID

A Hartlepool mini-market has been closed down by a court at the request of council chiefs for repeatedly selling illegal tobacco.

Trading Standards officials launched an investigation into the Baltic Minimarket, in Oxford Road, after receiving numerous complaints from the public.

Hartlepool Trading Standards manager Ian Harrison

Hartlepool Trading Standards manager Ian Harrison

A closure order was granted by Teesside Magistrates Court after an application by Hartlepool Borough Council.

The hearing was told undercover officers had been sold fake and non-duty paid cigarettes and tobacco numerous times between March last year and January.

Even when the shop was raided and counterfeit products removed, it was quickly re-stocked and sales continued.

Ian Harrison, Hartlepool council’s Trading Standards and Licensing Manager, said: “These premises have shown a continued disregard for the law.

“As this was causing a nuisance for the local community, powers to close the premises were used on Tuesday, April 11, and this was followed by a successful application to Teesside Magistrates for a three month Closure Order.

“In compliance with the legal process, we have consulted those who may be affected and are satisfied that the closure is both proportionate and necessary.”

He added: “This is also a warning to other shops that sell counterfeit goods. The courts have sent a clear message that continued illegal activity of this nature will not be tolerated and can lead to a business, or a premises, being closed down.”

The application was opposed by Shan Quader, who told the court she bought the business for £3,000 at the end of November last year.

The court heard the illegal tobacco sales had started before Miss Quader took over the business.

But Trading Standards officer Rachael Readman said Miss Quader had shown a “complete lack of control” over the business.

Miss Quader admitted that she left the running of the business completely to the staff.

The council said the order was needed to prevent further illegal tobacco sales.

Miss Quader said she was unaware of the activity, promised it would not happen again and appealed for another chance.

Chairman of the bench Alan Medd said: “Miss Quader demonstrated she had little or no knowledge of the legal and practical aspects of small business management and was therefore wholly ill equipped to run the Baltic Minimarket.”