Northumberland pub caught selling illegal spirits

Some of the seized alcohol.
Some of the seized alcohol.

A couple who sold illegal spirits from their Northumberland pub have to pay more than £3,000 after appearing in court.

Fake Smirnoff and Glens vodka were among the spirits being sold by husband and wife David and Sharon Purvis at the Black and Gold pub in Shieldfield Park, Tweedmouth, Berwick.

In August 2017, Trading Standards officers visited the park as part of a risk-assessed programme.

Officers carried out some simple screening tests and found a number of bottles of Smirnoff and Glens Vodka which were below the advertised ABV strength stated on the bottles.

Samples found the spirits were made from industrial alcohol rather than agricultural. At the lowest level they contained 5.7% less alcohol by volume than declared.

The court was told a member of staff had accepted the bottles of vodka from a relative who had them as unwanted gifts.

The couple pleaded guilty to offences under the Food Safety Act 1990 at Berwick Magistrates' Court.

David Purvis was given a fine of £440 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £44. Sharon Purvis was fined £150 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30. They were also each ordered to pay legal costs of £250 and investigation costs of £1,274 - a total amount of £3,712.

Coun John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience at Northumberland County Council said: “Alcohol of this type is usually bought cheaply from itinerant traders who are not legitimate suppliers.

“Our Trading Standards team has found quantities of fake vodka and whisky at pubs and small retailers across the county. A business that sells this type of alcohol plays roulette with the health and wellbeing of its customers and we will not hesitate to prosecute or review the licence to sell alcohol where we feel it is appropriate.”

David Sayer, business compliance and public safety unit manager, added: “Legitimate alcohol wholesalers are now required to be approved by HMRC and all retailers should only buy alcohol from them.

“You really don’t know what you are getting if you are buying from any other unknown source. Our officers inspect business premises regularly and an investigation will be conducted if a business is found to be supplying any type of illicit alcohol like the vodka found in this case.”