A Grimsby retailer convicted of possessing illegal tobacco has had his tobacco gantry removed by Imperial Tobacco.

Karzan Salim, who owns Arian News, had the gantry removed last week, after he was found guilty of eight charges of possession of counterfeit goods under the Trademarks Act.

Almost a quarter of a million illicit cigarettes and 200kg of rolling tobacco were found in his store and a nearby flat during raids last year.

It was the largest single haul of illicit cigarettes and tobacco that Trading Standards officers have seized in the borough since they began a crackdown 2014.

In addition to the public gantry removal, Karzan was also sentenced to four months in custody, suspended for 12 months and 160 hours community service.

Peter Nelson, Imperial Tobacco anti-illicit trade manager said: “This latest gantry removal is another example of our ‘no tolerance’ policy when it comes to retailers convicted of selling illegal tobacco.

“Imperial remains committed to working with enforcement bodies like North East Lincolnshire Trading Standards to weed out and punish those individuals looking to profit from this illegal activity.

“The possession of such significant amounts of both ‘illicit white’ cigarettes and counterfeit tobacco highlights the continued threat of this kind of illegal activity to local communities, while Mr Salim’s regrettable actions also threatened the livelihoods of his fellow retailers in Grimsby.

“Hopefully this latest display unit removal will send out a strong message to any retailers looking to profit from this illegal trade.

“If you have any suspicions around its sale where you live, please act by contacting either the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000, or your local Trading Standards or Police. Remember, if you suspect it, report it!”

Neil Clark, Trading Standards Manager for North East Lincolnshire Council, commented:

“I hope this action sends a clear message to those involved in the supply of illicit and counterfeit tobacco in that it will not be tolerated.

“Those who do risk prosecution, bad publicity and – as this action has shown – serious ramifications that will affect the profitability and long-term future of their business. It is quite simply not worth it”.

The gantry was removed by Imperial Tobacco, with assistance from North East Lincolnshire Trading Standards.