Border Force Court Case 25th Sept 2012, Hull re Seized Tobacco

Yesterday, one of our forum members (Toni) was in court re his seized tobacco. Here is our report of the day. We went ourselves to see the case.

There were a few members and friends of the forum who turned up for the case. 8 people in total were in the public gallery incl 1 from the Border Force but as she was in plain clothes l've no idea of her rank or position. lt's rare that cases like these get such scrutiny as it is hard to find when and where they are taking place. l recommend to anybody that can get to one of these cases to go as you will learn through the experience. Knowledge is indeed power.

The judge in my honest opinion was very lenient through the case and although Toni kept making statements instead of questions, the judge kept his patience. The case itself revolves around Civil Law and the 'balance of probabilities' and not 'beyond reasonable doubt'. lt's important you know this, it's no use complaining it's unfair because it it what it is. That is the system that is in place regardless of your feelings about it. You have to fight it on those grounds so remember that.

Taking that into account l'll concentrate on the main points of the case. Note, we don't have access to Toni's SAR, his copies of the officers notebooks or the officers written statement of said notebooks or Pre-Condemnation Assessment Letter so we cannot really comment on the specifics heard in the court. We can only present how Border Force and Toni presented their cases at face value for the most part.

Firstly there was a dispute as to whether the the stop was legal or not on the grounds of whether or not the stop was random. Random stops are illegal as the judgement in the Hoverspeed case ruled. However, this does not mean that the seizure is illegal. The judge in the Hoverspeed subsequent Appeal case said "We do not however see unfairness in the seizure of goods liable to forfeiture, even though their presence happens only to be discovered in the course of an unlawful check. That may be bad luck, but it is not unfair"

Again , there is no point in crying this is wrong or anything like that. This is the law as it stands and you have to work with that. Contesting the legality of the stop has much more impact and implications at the actual time of the seizure. lt has much less relevance at a later date in court.

The Border Force officer said that there were reasons for the stop but as they were intelligence led could not divulge them in court. Although various reasons were hypothesised upon by the judge, the actual reason was not revealed. Again, there is little or nothing you can do about this. The most you can do is get what is actually held on the database re an SAR.

The reasons for the actual seizure are another matter entirely. These are brought out in open court. In Toni's case, these are the reasons that were presented in court :-

1. The number of trips made between Mar 11 and Dec 11. Border Force said 8 but Toni's SAR showed one of these to be false and the Border Force officer accepted that. The Border Force officer said that Toni in his initial interview and subsequent full interview (Toni had returned to do a full interview at a later pre-arranged time) concealed some of these trips. Toni had done a SOT (Statement of Truth) but this showed only 6 in total. Toni said in the initial interview he could not remember all the trips and said so at the time. Toni also said the omission in the subsequent interview and SOT was a genuine mistake.

The Border Force (BF) officer said he had in his possession at the time of the interview, ferry records, their own database and ANPR data. Based on this, it was his belief that Toni was concealing the number of trips Toni had made.

2. The BF officer said he did not believe that Toni was a heavy smoker and had doubts to whether Toni smoked at all. He based this on that Toni did not ask to go for a smoke whilst in the Hull Sked sheds and Toni did not have on his personal possession smoking materials. Toni said that the shed was non-smoking as he could see all the signs in there. The BF officer agreed that there were but other passengers stopped who smoked asked to go for a smoke outside and they always allowed this. Toni said that there were smoking materials in the car but unfortunately there were no pouches open. Toni said that if the officer had asked for him to get them, he would have but the BF officer only asked if he had smoking materials 'on' him and he'd answered honestly.
Toni also told the officer that he didn't smoke in the morning and anyway the ship and cabins were no-smoking so why should he have smoking materials on his person. He added that there was smoking outside on the decks but it was very cold outside (Dec)

3. The BF officer said that on the 'balance of probabilities' that Toni had brought in similar amounts of tobacco (10kg) on all the previous trips. Toni disputed this and said that he'd brought in far less than that and on some occasions nothing at all. Because there were no BF records or claims by Toni that there were any stops by BF on these occasions there is no factual evidence. We were left with the 'balance of probabilities'.

4. The BF officer said that because Toni was on benefits that he could not afford these purchases. No actual detailed arithmetic was produced to back this claim up and Toni just produced the total amount of benefits he had per annum plus his pension. The BF officer also added that because of Toni being on benefits that he could not afford to give gifts. Again there was really no detailed arithmetic produced to back the claims up either way other than cursory.

5. The BF officer made a great deal of Toni having 4 individual receipts instead of one from Real Tobacco. He claimed that this showed the purchases was for commercial reasons. Toni said that was just the way he got them from Real Tobacco. The judge latched onto this and would could clearly see his interest peak.


l'll make no further comment here and let you be the judge so to speak. (
The actual judge at the case ruled totally in Border Forces favour and awarded £2719)


  1. Your honesty does you credit SH and l agree with Tim.

    1. TONY WAS UNLUCKY IN MY VIEW, The wrong Judge I think, Nothing here that did not happen in my case and I won, but I set out to prove the Assistant to an officer was untruthful and unreliable witness, The fact that the two of them contridicted each other regarding leaving the room to check our answers half way through the interview, Laz said he never once left the room, Burnside-Brown said they did as consulting each other was normal practice, The Judge said, someone is not telling the truth here, Laz said he read the notes back, but said I asked him to do that, when questioned where he wrote this in his notebook he said he forgot and ommitted to write the request, the judge looked amazed so I pushed it that in that case his notes were flawed and incompetent, Laz had no option but to agree that was the case.
      I submitted to the bench that as the officers were untruthful and their records were flawed and incompetent then there was insufficient quality in the UKBF evidence to condem my property.
      THE JUDGE AGREED WITH ME Although he failed in his duty to order an investigation of perjury

    2. No way like yours George. This guy didn't even smoke ffs. He was banged to rights.

  2. PMSL! a heavy smoker that doesnt smoke!

  3. Any perjury investigation by the police would never have got past the Scottish Procrator Fiscal but would have been binned as "NOT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST"

  4. INCOME VS EXPENDITURE is a big factor,if on a limited income its hard to justify giving away quite a bit as gifts.

    PREVIOUS TRAVEL-always a sticky ,do you declare what they may not know,or take a risk and not declare and they may know.

    INDIVIDUAL RECIETS- shops in adinkirke have always done this,not sure why but usually each reciet contains probably 3kg.

    SMOKING ITEMS-a smoker will always have something relating to smoking on them,even if its only a lighter imo.

    I have been stopped at Hull,and i always request a smoking break (which they have no hesitation in allowing you one) and insist the interveiwing officer make a note of it,i once had around 6 breaks and insisted evryone was noted down,much to the annoyance of the interveiwing officer.
    After queing at passport control you are certainly ready for a cigarette and its the first thing i want and will always insist on if i am going to be questioned.

    Try asking for a smoke break at dover or manchester airport,and the turn you down instantly.!

  5. Bad news Tony but as its only a civil penalty and if you like me own fuck all then just go Bankrupt and tell them to do one.
    WARRIOR IN A CASE AT AYR BEFORE THE SAME JUDGE AS I GOT, The Goonies stated a man had an open packet of cigs and a lighter, but he knew the system and was trying to deceive the Goons.
    The Sheriff even wrote that in my judgement

  6. This rubbish of the secrete page is pure and simple lies. They know it, you know it and the Judge knows it, Their sensitive page they call it however it works against them as well and should discredit their evidence if worked right and coupled with other dishonesty could show lack of credibility on the part of the rogue BF employee.
    Should be leaned on I think and the reason for the stop should be forced, This to my understanding is a CEMA RULE, The law, Reasonable grounds to suspect as in Stop and search laws by the police

  7. Why are my comments vanishing? IS THERE DARK FORCES AT WORK HERE?

  8. Replies
    1. lf you were banned l'd tell you direct. lol try and make friends with the spam monster ... l've tried everything but he still attacks your comments!

  9. Thanks SH but I still think the only realistic way to win these cases is to attack and discredit the BF witnesses, Remember you showed me the way and I went for the jugular.
    Totally destroyed Laz in the box, Yes it has it's dangers if the Judge is uniformed inclined but to go into this sort of thing as a Mr Goodie two shoes is a 50/50 thing and the Judges will give the uniform the edge.

    1. That's the basis of virtually all court cases. Show the evidence against you to be incorrect thus destroying the witness's credibility.

    2. Thank you SH, It was you that spotted Laz notebook flawed but I realise not everyone will be lucky enough to get interviewed by an idiot, He was like a child on Christmas morning so excited and keen he made a bollocks of the whole thing,
      So full of himself and his quasi judisial powers I am convienced he had a sexual climax halfway through the interrogation. He He,
      Or it could have been the mini-skirt I was wearing

  10. Did some research today because of the nonsense l heard in court about receipts ... on lo and behold:-

    The reason why there are multiple receipts for tobacco is bloody HMRC/UKBA/Border Force themselves!

    They brought it in (Customs and Excise Notice 477) when they tried to restrict the amount of tobacco on sale in Belgium. Together with tobacco companies they set a limit of a 3kg sale on certain UK brands and forced it on the tobacco shops. Tobacco shops had to agree or they wouldn't be supplied with these tobacco products and they also had to grant access to sales receipts data if they were asked to by their suppliers. To ensure that tobacco shops didn't go over these limits by human error, they themselves had the tills software altered so should barcodes of these tobacco brands be entered ... the sale had a limit of 3kg. Thus protecting themselves from losing their supply.

    This is much the same as in our superstores like ASDA etc when you purchase paracetamol etc. The tills don't let you go over the limit set by the store. Of course you can just go round and buy some more ... again and again.

    Actually it's all complete bollox because countries like Bulgaria and Poland seldom, if ever, issue receipts (except in airport shops). The receipt proves nothing at all about whether goods are for a commercial purpose or not. Blocked Dwarf is 100% correct when he says all that matters is if the duty has been paid and the duty paid label on all the EU tobacco products does that.

    So if Border Force try it on with you and ask 'Why do you have multiple receipts?' ... just answer 'Because of you!'


"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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