Portsmouth off-licence shut down for selling super-strength booze at £1 a can

Liquor Land in London Road, Portsmouth.
Liquor Land in London Road, Portsmouth.
Southsea Coast Emporium was packed for the tea duelling event Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Tea duelling’ marks two years of trading

11
Have your say

A CITY off-licence has been shut down by investigators for breaching tax laws and selling super-strength booze at illegal prices.

Portsmouth City Council stripped Liquor Land, in London Road, North End, of its premises licence after a probe into its practices.

Alcohol was being supplied yet the authorities originally did not know where it was coming from. From a public safety point of view that is not good, and that was also taken into consideration.

Tory councillor Hannah Hockaday, chairwoman of Portsmouth City Council’s licensing committee

Hampshire Constabulary raised concerns after officers visited and found foreign brands of booze being sold for £1 – below the recommended price set by the Home Office.

HMRC seized alcohol which it suspected could have been smuggled into the UK unlawfully – and found not enough duty had been paid on products.

And there were frustrations over the attitude of the shop owners – with officials saying they showed ‘no remorse’ for their actions.

Tory councillor Hannah Hockaday, chairwoman of the council’s licensing committee, said: ‘The shop had not paid enough duty on alcohol seized by HMRC.

‘Over the past year, the shop had a lot of involvement with the police, who were trying to help them adhere to the licensing regulations.

‘But they had hardly any contact with the owners.

‘The owners didn’t respond to emails, phone calls, and messages weren’t passed on through members of staff.’

Cans of Oranjeboom Super, an 8.5 per cent strength Dutch lager, were being sold for £1 – 24p below the price they should have been, £1.24.

Polish beer Perla Mocna, which has a strength of 7.6 per cent should have been sold for at least £1.10 but was on the shelf for £1.

HMRC later discovered alcohol was being brought in via a cash and carry outlet in Eastleigh to the store.

PC Pete Rackham, of Portsmouth Police Licensing Team, said in a report that Satvinder Rai and Anand Muthusamy – both involved in the running of the shop – had been ‘failing to promote licensing objectives’.

Cllr Hockaday said: ‘Alcohol was being supplied yet the authorities originally did not know where it was coming from. From a public safety point of view that is not good, and that was also taken into consideration.

‘At no point at all were the owners remorseful.

‘I know that as soon as a bit of help started coming along they started getting training records together.

‘But before that point, there was no interest in trying to get everything sorted. We didn’t think things were going to change in future.’

The owners have the opportunity to appeal against the decision made.