Doncaster Food & Wine shop licence under threat over ‘selling smuggled alcohol’

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A Doncaster shop could lose its licence to sell alcohol after council officers said the store had ‘smuggled’ booze with foreign labelling on its premises. 

A Doncaster shop could lose its licence to sell alcohol after council officers said the store had ‘smuggled’ booze with foreign labelling on its premises. 

Hadi Salem, the licence holder of Doncaster Food & Wine on Nether Hall Road, town centre, is to face questions from councillors at a meeting next week. 

Senior environmental officer Michael Griffiths said products which are sold from a ‘unregulated source’ cannot be traced and ‘could be unfit for sale’.

He’s supported a licensing review and said the alcohol had been supplied by an 'illegal warehouse in Sheffield'. 

But nearby businesses on the town centre road have come out to support Mr Salem. Council chiefs received eight separate letters from other businesses who labelled the shop boss a ‘kind, friendly’ and ‘important member of the business community’. 

Others called the shop owner a ‘respectable business man’ and a ‘friendly neighbour’.

A report sent to the licensing sub-committee shows council officers visited the shop and identified a ‘large amount’ of ‘foreign labelled’ beer back in August. 

In documents seen by councillors, officers said Mr Salem could not provide invoices for the beer. 

But on another visit to the store a month later, council officers were provided with invoices from a company called The Beer Fella. 

Further investigations found the Sheffield-based company had their alcohol registration taken away due to ‘illegal activity’ but were still trading from an ‘unknown warehouse in South Yorkshire’ according to HMRC bosses. 

Documents show Mr Salem was asked to help the HMRC in their investigation into the The Beer Fella but told council officials the number he used to contact them had been blocked. The shop owner also agreed not to buy anymore illicit alcohol. 

But trading standards and health & safety officials at the council found ‘16 cases of Polish beer’ on a visit in early October. 

Reports show Mr Salem initially said he was unsure where the alcohol had come from.

But when interviewed under caution, the shop owner revealed they had come from the ‘same illegal warehouse’ in Sheffield, was ‘tired of lying’ and reportedly apologised for this actions. 

Michael Griffiths, senior environmental officer at Doncaster Council, said: “The alcohol on sale during the initial visit did not have any English labelling. This is a direct breach of the Food Labelling Regulations 2014 and does give a strong indication that the product was not manufactured for sale in England. 

“It did not have the correct labelling information particularly allergens which would also make the product potentially unsafe for sale.

“Storing smuggled goods on a licenced premises is a direct breach of the mandatory conditions of an alcohol licence.”

The licensing sub-committee will meet to hear the case on Monday, November 26.