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Pub caught in illegal tab sting; LANDLADY SUSPECTED OF SELLING FAKE CIGARETTES.

Byline: Ian Johnson Reporter ian.johnson01@reachplc.com @IANJOHNSONCHRON

A pub boss is suspected of selling cheap cigarettes from behind her bar.

Officials found more than 200 allegedly counterfeit Superkings and Richmond cigarettes at The Blue Bell following a tip-off.

Manager Julie Simpson insisted they were for her own "personal use".

Now Northumbria Police has launched a review of the Felling pub's licence amid concerns over the management.

The action comes almost eight months after a Trading Standards officer seized the contraband.

A Gateshead Council report said: "(The officer) noticed empty illegal tobacco packaging in the bin behind the bar.

"They carried out a search of the bar area and found 60 x Superkings cigarettes, 160x Richmond cigarettes and three pouches of Turner hand rolling tobacco.

"None of the tobacco carries the correct health warnings and it is not in the correct plain packaging as required by UK law."

The report states other goods at the Victoria Square pub "appeared to be counterfeit" but weren't removed due to the small quantities involved.

However, the venue's licence will be debated by the council's licencing sub-committee on November 4. The report reveals that Northumbria Police raised fears the venue was failing to meet multiple licencing objectives.

And it follows a lengthy ongoing investigation in which Miss Simpson was interviewed under caution. Addressing that interview, the report states: "She read out from a prepared statement.

"She refused to comment on all other questions put to her."

And the report adds: "Julie Simpson claimed to have accepted the goods from a man who came into the pub as she was scared to refuse them, but they were for her own personal use.

"The CCTV would have confirmed this, but to this date, no footage has been shared with Trading Standards."

The Sunday Sun attempted to contact both Miss Simpson and licence holder Admiral Taverns Piccadilly Limited.

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Author:Ian Johnson Reporter ian.johnson01@reachplc.com @IANJOHNSONCHRON
Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 3, 2019
Words:320
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