Six-week booze ban slapped on Whitecross Street newsagent

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Council.

An Islington newsagent has had its licence to serve alcohol suspended for six weeks.

AJ News on Whitecross Street was raided on 7 June by Islington trading standards officers, who discovered a number of cans of Polish beer without English labelling, including Zubr, Okocim and Perla Green.

A second raid on 15 June was conducted, and it was discovered that the same products were still being displayed.

A total of 104 cans were seized from the shop over the two visits.

The council also amended the licence to prevent any alcohol stronger than 6.5 per cent ABV being sold when the ban ends.

Solicitor Julian Overton, representing AJ News, said at a 27 September meeting of Islington’s licensing panel: “AJ News is a very small and busy shop, and a family business.

“There has not been sufficient care and attention to the conditions of the licence, and concerns over the strong beer for sale.

“There has been significant progress – the shop has invested in a new CCTV system. All training records are now up-to-date, and all challenge 25 notices are now compliant.

“All this has happened in a relatively short period of time, and demonstrates the shop’s attempt to put its house in order.”

AJ News’ manager Mohammed Hassan Shah stated at the meeting that the alcohol had been purchased from a local cash-and-carry five years previously, with the shop unaware of its illicit nature.

Trading standards officers present at the meeting were sceptical of this claim.

During their summing-up, they referred to a previous raid at which untaxed booze had been confiscated from the premises: “If you’re saying the cans had been there for years, how come we didn’t find them in 2015 when we visited then? Because they would have been there.”