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‘Leave our shop alone!’ Customers defend Caledonian Road off-licence after dodgy booze allegations

PUBLISHED: 10:38 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:39 12 July 2017

Caledonian General Store, in Caledonian Road. Picture: Google Street View

Caledonian General Store, in Caledonian Road. Picture: Google Street View

Archant

Customers have launched an impassioned defence of a Cally off-licence allegedly caught doing a dodgy booze deal.

Caledonian General Store, near the junction with Frederica Street, faces a “short to medium-term” suspension of its licence at a town hall meeting next week.

But 10 customers have urged a committee to give the off-licence a reprieve, saying: “We don’t believe the allegations.”

Islington Council papers say Douglas Love, who has been a Trading Standards officer since 1990, visited the premises in February when he noticed an unmarked white van outside. It had delivered 44 trays of beer and six cases of wine.

When he confronted licence holder Cengiz Bakirhan, there was no paperwork relating to the delivery and he couldn’t identify the supplier in the white van. Mr Love said there would have been £620 duty payable for the goods.

He demanded an invoice, and received one for exactly the same goods six days later. Given Mr Bakirhan couldn’t identify the supplier, he was “sceptical” about the invoice’s relation to the goods he had seen in the shop.

He contacted Cash and Carry, which confirmed the invoice had been raised five hours after the delivery he had witnessed.

Mr Love therefore alleged the off-licence bought “identical stock to make them seem duty paid and therefore lawful”.

He added: “The act of trying to deceive an authorised officer with a genuine invoice relating to identical but different stock, bought after the illegal stock was discovered, is of especially great concern.”

The store has not admitted any wrongdoing, and no other allegedly illegal alcohol was found in the shop. One regular customer wrote to the council saying: “We don’t believe the allegations that he is selling illegal products as for many years we have been buying cigarettes and alcohol. The shop has been our local for many years now. I speak for the community [in saying] we all love our shop.”

Another, claiming to be a council employee, added: “During the time Cengiz has been manager [since 2005] I can say with honesty I have never been offered illegal cigarettes or alcohol [for] which duty has not been paid.”

Islington Council’s licensing sub committee will make a decision at a town hall meeting on July 18 (6.30pm).

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