Bootleg booze seizure sparks fear of national operation


By Kirsty Topping


The “wine” was seized from a shop in Edinburgh

A BATCH of potentially harmful fake wine has been discovered in a Scots store.

The four bottles are believed to contain the same liquid found in a larger batch found in Liverpool five weeks ago, sparking fears the problem could be country-wide.

The bootleg booze was seized from a store in Leith and stores across Edinburgh are now being checked for more of the counterfeit alcohol.

The seized bottles are undergoing tests to find out if the substance could be harmful if consumed.The

“wine’ was labeled as well-known brands, such as Echo Falls, Blossom Hill, Kumala and Hardy’s and appear to have been carefully resealed with screw tops after being refilled.

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: “When the new Licensing Act came in 2005 we asked the Government to consider introducing a wholesale licence which meant only licensed wholesalers could sell alcohol. We wanted to do this was because there is bootlegging going on and it would have stopped this kind of thing. The Government didn’t take us up on this offer but perhaps this is something they could revisit.”

Police acted on a tip-off by a member of the public who had bought one of the bottles.It is understood that the owners of the store where the bottles were found are not suspects in the investigation and innocently bought the goods from a wholesaler.

The Liverpool batch is still being tested but it’s believed a piece of chewing gum was found in one of the bottles.Councillor Tim Beaumont, assistant cabinet member for environment at Liverpool City Council, said: “At this stage, until we have the results of the analysis, we do not know if the substances in the bottle will have any effects on people’s health – hopefully it will prove to be unpleasant but harmless.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said: “Retailers should ensure they buy their stock only from reputable suppliers.

This counterfeit wine is of unknown origin or quality and consumers will have no idea what it contains, since they may be unaware it is fake.

“This counterfeit product represents a potentially huge profit for unscrupulous retailers who will be selling to unsuspecting consumers for full retail price.”