Babylon Halal AIT_1The owner of the ‘Babylon Halal’ located in King William Street, Coventry has sold his shop after multiple raids by Trading Standards Officers during a 12 month period, where illegal tobacco was discovered and seized. Numerous concealments were found within the premises on various raids and illegal tobacco was also ‘fed’ into the shop down a tube from a flat above the premises.

The Coventry store also had its gantry confiscated by Imperial Tobacco after the series of raids and all sales support was withdrawn, as well as revoking membership of our ignite retailer reward scheme.

Peter Nelson, Imperial Tobacco Anti-Illicit Trade Manager, commented: “Babylon Halal has been involved in the persistent sale of illicit tobacco, and was therefore in breach of our strict ‘no tolerance’ policy. Imperial continues to work collaboratively with legitimate traders and law enforcement to fight illicit trade, and would like to extend our gratitude to Coventry Trading Standards for their sustained approach to illegal tobacco.”

In recognition of their efforts, Coventry Trading Standards were recently presented with prestigious individual and team-based awards by the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) for ‘Excellence in Anti-Counterfeiting Enforcement’.Babylon Halal AIT_2


The illicit tobacco trade continues to be a blight on UK businesses and communities, and nowhere in the UK is this felt more keenly than in the city of Coventry. The recent ‘Babylon Halal’ gantry uplift was just the tip of the anti-illicit trade (AIT) iceberg.

Coventry has one of the most active Trading Standards (TS) teams in the entire country, and is certainly one of Imperial Tobacco’s busiest areas in terms of AIT activity. It is also generally recognised as one of the UK’s central ‘hubs’ in terms of illicit business offshoots.

Imperial’s dedicated AIT team operates extensively within the Coventry area, conducting test purchases to ascertain potential illegal activity and sharing intelligence with TS. They have also assisted on numerous occasions with examinations and statements to support prosecutions.

This, allied to a rigorous approach by Coventry TS which includes the effective use of sniffer dogs, has resulted in the closure of three retail premises within the last six months. As mentioned in the attached press release, Imperial also removed a gantry plus associated sales support from the shop Babylon Halal – while numerous other court cases involving illegal tobacco are pending.

Coventry TS have seized several million illegal sticks so far in 2017, including hauls of counterfeit Imperial products Regal, Richmond and Golden Virginia. Raid locations have included houses, flats, self-storage facilities and vehicles in transit. Successful seizures have ranged from small retailers through to significant distributors, the latter leading to ongoing investigations by Coventry Police into links to organised crime.

Babylon Halal AIT_3Peter Nelson, Imperial Tobacco AIT Manager, comments: “The phenomenal, enduring success of Coventry TS in the battle against illegal tobacco is an excellent example of long-standing best practice in the AIT arena. Imperial firmly believes that collaboration between all parties remains key to ridding local communities of this illicit menace.”

Nelson concludes: “If any retailers or consumers have suspicions around the sale of illicit tobacco in their area, 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!

Author: kimbarnard

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