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Court rejects appeal by businessman over revocation of alcohol licence Published Date: 21/01/2024

Worthing Magistrates’ Court has upheld a decision by West Sussex County Council to revoke a businessman’s alcohol licence over the sale of counterfeit cigarettes.

The council initially revoked the licence of Barzan Aubid, the sole director and operator of Baltic Bognor Ltd in Bognor Regis, in December 2022.

This followed a number of inspections carried out by West Sussex Trading Standards of Baltic Bognor Ltd dating back to 2017. The local authority said these uncovered a number of illegal goods including counterfeit cigarettes, vapes which exceeded the legal nicotine limit, and a number of products such as vodka with non-compliant labelling.

Aubid had previously pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court after illegal cigarettes were found on the premises by Trading Standards officers in September 2018 when he received a fine plus costs. 

The council said that on 22 December 2023 he also pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court to similar offences relating to illicit cigarettes sold from his premises in January 2022. Sentencing is due to take place on 15 March 2024 for these later offences.

Following a hearing on 3 January 2024, Worthing Magistrates’ Court dismissed Aubid's appeal and awarded full costs of approximately £1,660 to Arun District Council as the licensing authority.

West Sussex Trading Standards said it worked with West Sussex County Council Public Health, Sussex Police, and Arun District Council on this case as part of an initiative to address safety concerns related to the illegal tobacco market.

Cllr Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue, said:

“Illegal tobacco is a serious concern to public health, and taking steps to eradicate it from the county forms an important element of Our Council Plan and our priority to keep people safe.

“Counterfeit cigarettes can contain a wide range of hazardous substances and we would discourage anybody from buying any seemingly bargain-priced tobacco.”

Cllr Billy Blanchard Cooper, Arun District Council Licensing Committee Chair, said: “It is reassuring that the court has upheld the decision of Arun’s Licensing Sub-Committee to revoke the licence for this premises, following application for review.

“The Licensing Act 2003 contains important powers available to Responsible Authorities including the Police, Trading Standards and Environmental Health as well as the public, to request review of premises licences, and is a key protection for the community where problems associated with the licensing objectives occur.”