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East Street shopkeeper gets 20 months in jail in landmark skin whitening product prosecution

The owner of an East Street shop in Walworth has been given 20 months in prison and ordered to pay a £1,500 company fine and costs of £5,000 after he pleaded guilty to supplying illegal skin lightening products.

Southwark Council says this is believed to be the first case where someone has received a custodial sentence for selling the dangerous items.

Mohammed Iqbal Bharadawala, aged 45, from Heigham Road, East Ham, appeared at London’s Inner Crown Court yesterday, August 21.

This is the second time the director of Jenny’s Cosmetics Limited, based at 72 East Street in Walworth, has been prosecuted by Southwark Council.

In November 2015 he was given a twelve month suspended sentence for similar offences the previous year.

The repeat offender had also been stopped by UK border force agents on March 31, 2017, on his way back from France with 1,431 ‘infringing cosmetics’ subsequently seized by Kent trading standards officers.

Bharadawala and the company pleaded guilty to nine offences relating to the supply of illegal skin lightening products containing banned ingredient hydroquinone, which can cause serious and irreversible skin damage and is linked to liver and nervous system problems, and a further fifteen offences relating to inadequate cosmetic labelling.

Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Southwark Council cabinet member for community safety and public health, said: “Southwark Council works tirelessly to protect shoppers in Southwark and beyond from irresponsible traders seeking to profit at the expense of their customers’ health.

“These results show that businesses cannot hide by selling illegal goods online and that the courts will severely punish those who repeatedly break the law.

“I fully support the Judge’s decision to bestow the severest sentence in such a case, and hope that it acts as a serious deterrent to anyone thinking of dealing in dangerous skin lightening products here in future.”

The council started inspecting the East Street premises on January 12 last year after a test purchase of three illegal items being sold on Ebay – leading to 260 items being seized.

It says one product purchased online, Grace Duo, contained seventeen per cent hydroquinone and had no manufacturer’s details or English language labelling.

Further investigations showed that the Ebay transaction was with a company called Jenny’s Online Limited, run by Bharodawala’s brother, Abdul Kadar Bharodawala, aged 35, from Haldane Road in E6.

Abdul Bharodawala and his company also pleaded guilty to three offences each, under cosmetic product safety regulations.

He was also in court yesterday, and received a one year community order, 80 hours’ unpaid work, costs of £4,500 and a fine of £500 against the company.

Mohammad Bharodawala was also disqualified from acting as a company Director for four years.


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