Southwark shopkeeper sentenced for persistent sale of dangerous skin lightening products

9 February 2018

A Peckham shopkeeper was sentenced for offences relating to the illegal sale of dangerous skin lightening products, Banaras Hussain was ordered to pay £8,000 fines, £13,027 costs and £4,888 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (£25,915 in total), with a 15 week suspended sentence and 100 days unpaid work, at the Inner London Crown Court.

This is the second time Southwark Council has prosecuted Banaras Hussain of West Green Road, Tottenham, N15, a former Director of Shaba Hair & Cosmetics (Peckham) Limited. Hussain is a persistent offender, with previous convictions for similar offences committed at the same branch as well as shops in Hackney and Enfield.

Hussain pleaded guilty to ten offences relating to the supply of illegal skin lightening products. Some of the products contained ingredients so potent they were classed as prescription only medicines. Selling such products is against cosmetic products and human medicines regulations.

On 9 December 2015, some 2,500 products were seized by Southwark Council’s Trading Standards team at 65 Rye Lane, SE15. Most of the products were uncovered in a concealed storage space at the back of the premises.

Under-cover trading standards test purchases in the store revealed the sale of illegal skin lighteners, sold on an under-the-counter basis.

Analysis showed these products contained prohibited ingredients, such as hydroquinone and corticosteroids; both of which are banned in cosmetic products, due to concerns over serious and irreversible skin damage, as well as links to liver, nervous system damage and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Southwark Council is one of the most proactive enforcement authorities in the UK, in regard to finding and prosecuting vendors of illegal skin lighteners. Between 2002 and 2016, 19 local cosmetic suppliers were convicted of supplying dangerous and illegal skin lightening products. Total fines and costs have amounted to £394,000, with two suspended prison sentences. Southwark will see a further four defendants in court this month, in addition to today’s case, facing charges relating to illegal skin lighteners.

Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Safety, said: “Southwark Council works tirelessly to protect Southwark’s shoppers from irresponsible vendors who seek profit at the expense of their customer’s health. Banaras Hussain is such a shopkeeper, he has demonstrated flagrant disregard for both the law and the safety of his customers, by persistently selling dangerous skin lightening products and ignoring both the council and the courts.

“I support Judge Donne’s decision to bestow significant fines and costs, and hope that this will act as a serious deterrent to anyone thinking of selling illegal and dangerous skin whitening products here in future.”

Page last updated: 09 February 2018