A Salford trader who was caught four times with counterfeit and unsafe toys has been fined.
Over 850 items seized by trading standards officers were found to be counterfeit and 322 items did not comply with safety regulations.
They included counterfeit Peppa Pig toys, Samsung charging cables and plastic toys which had more than the legal limit of chemicals which are restricted because of health concerns.
Company director Mr Baljit Singh Batra, known as Mr Singh, pleaded guilty to eight trademark and product safety offences and was fined a total of £2,768. He was ordered to pay £1,750 costs and a £190 victim surcharge when he appeared at Manchester and Salford magistrates court on Friday 2 July.
On behalf of the company A2Z Smoking Products Ltd of Rugby Street, Broughton, he also pleaded guilty to a further eight product safety offences relating to unsafe packaging and non-compliant labelling. The company was fined a total of £3,072 and ordered to pay costs of £1,750 and a £190 victim surcharge. The prosecution was brought by Salford City Council’s trading standards team. All the goods involved will now be destroyed and the materials recycled where possible.
The court heard that trading standards officers visited the warehouse on August 1, 2019 and seized suspect Peppa Pig and Funny Face toys which were later found to be counterfeit and not compliant with labelling requirements. Mr Singh was given a warning and advisory letter on August 8 along with clear information about toy safety and packaging regulations.
Officers visited again on 30 October, 2019 and advised Mr Singh that any items suspected to be counterfeit or unsafe would be seized. They selected three toys to submit for safety testing and Mr Singh agreed to remove the remaining stock from the showroom and not sell them until further notice.
Testing showed the toys did not meet the requirements of the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 and the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 and Mr Singh agreed to surrender the remaining stock for destruction.
Officers also seized a number of toys including Disney character dolls, Thomas the Tank Engine and Peppa Pig dolls which were later found to be counterfeit. The Peppa Pig toys were identical to ones Mr Singh had voluntarily surrendered earlier in the year. Officers also seized Samsung charging cables which were also found to be counterfeit.
On 11 December 2019 officers went to the shop after notification from Southampton trading standards that toy slime and a My Lovely Baby Betty doll had both failed safety tests. The doll was the same brand as that seized from Mr Singh on October 30. Officers seized the remaining dolls, toy unicorn squishes, blow up Santas and giraffes and flashing Minions toys.
The blow-up toys and dolls contained higher levels of phthalates than the law permits. The chemicals are used to make plastics soft and flexible but their use has been limited in toys because of health risks. The toys also failed to comply with labelling regulations including no warning advising they should not be given to children under three because they could choke. The Minion toys were found to be counterfeit.
Mr Singh was interviewed under caution in August 2020 and provided a pre-prepared statement. He produced five test reports which only related to one doll and did not show that that it was compliant with UK law. He answered no comment to almost all other questions during the interview.
Speaking after the hearing Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said: “Safety testing is there to protect the public and that was made crystal clear to Mr Singh. He has repeatedly ignored this and continued to sell unsafe and counterfeit products. I hope this prosecution and heavy fine serves as a warning to him and other traders not to play fast and loose with safety. I applaud the council officers involved for protecting consumers.”