Top Cellar closes over stolen wine

2nd November, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Edinburgh wine chain Top Cellar has lost its alcohol licence over claims that staff sold stolen wine to customers.

Closed for business: Top Cellar on Easter Road in Leith, Edinburgh

The chain has been handed a four-month ban following an investigation by police and Trading Standards officers.

This July, 1,500 bottles of wine worth £52,000 were seized from the four branches after staff were found to be selling Grand Cru Chablis worth £35 at £6.99 a bottle.

Bosses from the company faced the Edinburgh Licensing Board this week, which heard allegations from police that the company had sold stolen goods.

While the firm had a receipt showing when the wine was purchased, board members said the allegations by police, Trading Standards and HMRC customs officials were of such a serious nature that the licences had to be revoked.

“We have a duty to prevent crime. A licence holder has a responsibility for what goes on in their premises,” board member Joanna Mowat said after the hearing.

“The allegations here are very serious offences. There’s no question that stolen goods have been found, how they got there is the issue,” Mowat added.

According to the Edinburgh Evening News, Top Cellar owners Norine Aslam and Zafar Chaudhry claimed they believed the wine was genuine when they bought it in Dover earlier this year.

Defence lawyer for the couple, Alistair Macdonald, told members of the board that a rogue employee had been responsible for the operation.

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