There Be Dragons at Dover Magistrates Court!

This post is about a judgement regarding Condemnation Proceedings in Dover Magistrates Court after a seizure at Coquelles. lf this is what happens all the time at Folkestone Magistrates Court ... God help us all!

Reasons at time of seizure. The officer didn’t give the reasons at time of seizure … which was admitted in court. This would’ve given the respondents an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings that led the officer(s) to believe the reasons.

Before the interviews took place, Border Force seized the shoppers Statement of Truth, Consumption figures stating how long their purchases would last which included how many cigarettes per pouch etc etc, financial figures and a photocopy of a compensation cheque that was over twice the amount of the shoppers purchase. After the interview, these documents were returned (Border Force said they had photocopied them) but later found to be missing were the consumption figures sheet and financial figures. In court, these documents were not in the photocopies that Border Force had taken … they had disappeared. 

Border Force did not return this evidence to the shoppers for the interviews. Neither did Border Force read or refer to them … this was also admitted in court. Both the shoppers had told Border Force that they were ‘not good at numbers’. This was denied in court by Border Force but a recording taken by the shoppers proved that they had said it. Both shoppers had also stated that they had not slept for over 24 hrs. 

The subsequent interview was conducted not based on evidence supplied by the shoppers but based on a memory test. That is to say that our shoppers answers had to come totally from memory despite their condition and not having access to their evidence they had provided. 

So, to court. One must remember that whether the seizure was legal or not does not mean that goods cannot be condemned in subsequent Condemnation Proceedings. What court is there for is to assess all the evidence put before it and judge ‘on the balance of probabilities’ if the goods were for a commercial purpose or not. 

Reading the statements (copy of their notebooks) from the officers it was plain to see that the questions were ambiguous with no attempt whatsoever to clarify virtually anything. If they thought an answer was a reason for seizure … they asked no more questions on the subject! The officers statements were also heavily paraphrased in parts … again some of this was proven by the recordings played in court. 

It is Border Forces job, morally and ethically, to conduct these interviews professionally to establish the facts … it is not their job just to find any reason for seizure without clarifying or checking facts. No question should be ambiguous, it should be specific and clear. This also applies to answers received by these questions … if they are unclear then the interviewing officer should try and clarify the answer. This is what the officer is there for … it is not the job of the person being interviewed! 

It would be impossible … how can the person know that the officer has decided the answer he’s just received is a reason for seizure? Do Border Force expect all people being interviewed to be telepathic? Surprisingly, the magistrates at this court case seem to believe exactly that … l kid you not! 

I should also mention here the prosecuting barrister. I’ve been to quite a few of these court cases and l’ve never seen court procedures like this one in Dover (Coquelles Seizure).  I’m still unsure who was in charge of the court case … the prosecuting barrister or the bench! 


So to the judgement and yes it is verbatim … not paraphrased and 100% factually correct. I’ll add my comments after each reason(s) in 'blue'. l give you the bench of Folkestone Magistrates Court, Mrs MacEachin (Head of bench), Mr Benn and Mr Godfrey … assisted by Ms Hayter, Clerk of the Court. 
l've also added the reasons in closed brackets like this (Reason 1)  because Mrs MacEachin did not read the reasons out.

Judgement given out by Mrs MacEachin  (everything in italics) Note:- Mr Godfrey and Mr Benn sat either side of her.

"The bench believes that the UKBF Officers were acting within their remit and had reasonable grounds to seize the goods on the basis of responses made at the interviews conducted on the day. 

Whilst it would’ve been helpful to give the reasons to the applicants on the day, the UKBF are within their rights not to do so

The bench has considered all the evidence put forward by Mr A and Ms B and UKBF. The bench considered the explanations given for choice of tobacco, the means of payment and the evidence provided in court today regarding personal finances, personal consumption and other information. Using the reasons listed in Mr ####### (UKBF) witness statement as reasons for seizure in the first place."

(Reason 1  Inconsistencies regarding consumption rates and time goods to last. Stated that he smokes one pouch per day and goods would last one year. Based on both consumption rates the goods would not last time stated.

Reason 2 Stated he gets 50 to 60 cigarettes from one pouch but also stated he uses 2 packs of papers per pouch, 100 papers.)

"In case of reasons 1 and 2, the bench believes that the evidence given at interview contained a deliberate effort to give evasive or confusing answers."

(This is truly staggering. Not only does Mrs MacEachin ignore the fact that Ms B and Mr A had their documents taken off them where all these details were written down as a statement of truth but Ms B and Mr A gave the correct answers regarding Reason 1! That this was subsequently proven again in court along with BS 15592 Part 3 doesn't concern Mrs MacEachin. Nor does it concern her that it was the UKBF that were confused with the figures ... not Ms B and Mr A.

As for Mrs MacEachin's judgement on Reason 2 we truly enter into the realms of fantasy. During the seizure interview Mr A was asked what papers he used and how many packets of papers per pouch. Mr A replied Rizla and about 2 packets. That was it, no further questions regarding papers by UKBF Officer. Mr A and Ms B do use 2 packets of papers per 50g pouch! They use Rizla Red Kingsize 100mm papers, 32 papers per pack. ln court empty packets were produced in court showing stamped on the packets ... 32 papers! Also was a printout from Rizla themselves stating this.The UKBF officer when questioned didn't know that Rizla produced these papers, he believed that Rizla only produced 70mm papers and there were 50 papers per pouch. He admitted this and said that the reason he gave for seizure was wrong.

Mrs MacEachin not only ignores the factual evidence produced but ignores what the UKBF Officer admitted. She still states that Mr A gave deliberate evasive and confusing answers! )


(Reason 3. Unreasonable to spend nearly £2000 of compensation money on tobacco products when receiving benefits and having no savings.)

"In the case of Reason 3 we do not believe that this is relevant."

(No wonder Mrs MacEachin doesn't believe this was relevant. Mr A and Ms B presented in court a letter from their accountant setting out their finances!)


(Reason 4. Not credible to consume 1 pouch per day at a cost of approximately £14 per pouch in the UK, given stated income and not imported tobacco in the past.)

"In the case of Reason 4 we believe the ability to pay for the high tobacco consumption has been explained by the updated financial evidence. However this makes the bench believe that deliberate attempts were made to confuse the evidence."

(WHAT! Once again Mrs MacEachin disappears into the realms of fantasy. She believes they can pay for the goods at home (courtesy of accountants letter) and yet she still endorses Reason 4 because she believed attempts were made to confuse the evidence! What Mrs MacEachin is saying here is that Mr A and Ms B deliberately told the UKBF Officers that their finances were LESS than they actually were!!! Unbelievable! What sort of smuggling tactic would that be!)


(Reason 5. Admitted use of Black Market)

"The bench believes that the purchase of tobacco @ £8.50 in the pub is evidence of Black Market and we do not believe the written and unsubstantiated evidence."

(This was an off the cuff remark by Mr A that he'd bought some tobacco off a mate. Not a helpful thing to do in the circumstances as UKBF are not reknown for their humour. This was shown by the UKBF Officer simply writing this off the cuff remark down in his notebook and not questioning Mr A in detail on it. What Mr A had actually done was bought some off a mate who'd had to give up smoking and therefore sold what tobacco (UK duty paid)  he had left. This mate supplied a letter saying this. (You really do have to be careful of what you say to UKBF)


(Reason 6.  Not credible to have not purchased excise goods in Malta because they 'couldn't afford it' in August, when in receipt of their compensation cheque in June.)

"The bench do not believe the reasons given for the apparent failure to purchase tobacco in Malta."

(Dear God how Mrs MacEachin came to this conclusion is beyond me. At the time of the UKBF interview Mr A had stated that 'they couldn't afford it' when asked why they didn't purchase any tobacco in Malta. No further questions were asked about this and in the interview with Ms B she wasn't asked at all about this. The fact of the matter was Mr A and Ms B had taken Euros to Malta. At the end of their holiday they tried to purchase some tobacco with Ms B's debit card ... the card was rejected. Ms B tried 3 different banks to withdraw cash ... all rejected. Their bank at home had automatically rejected the card because the bank did not know they were abroad (something everyone should check by the way if they go abroad).

Now l told you at the beginning that Ms B was not good at numbers but one thing she is good at ... she saves receipts ... any receipts. Ms B was able to not only produce copies of these receipts in court but also produce the original ones. Alas, Mrs MacEachin does not think that not having money is a reason for not purchasing goods!)


(Reason 7. Goods over 20 times the guidelines.)

"Whilst the bench is very clearly ware that the quoted 1kg is not a limit they believe that the 20.5kg, whilst taking into account all other evidence, is indicative of personal or possible commercial purpose.

The bench found the evidence of Mr A and Ms B to be inconsistent and unreliable both at the original interview and here in court.

We therefore find 'on the balance of probabilities' that the goods were purchased for commercial gain and as a result should be condemned."

l find the reasoning given by Mrs MacEachin, Mr Godfrey and Mr Benn to be both inconsistent and unreliable here in this court case

(This is a 1st draft. I think it works and hopefully you can understand it.) 


  1. You ain't wrong about dover mags mate. The barrister ran the show when l was up before them. He could say what he liked when he liked. When l tried speaking l was told to shut up. Yeah, l lost lol

  2. they all pi$$ in the same pot Dover is just a kangaroo court and has been for years

  3. If this is English justice I withdraw my three years ranting and being critical of the Scottish Sheriff Court system.
    I defended my condemnation case in a Scottish Sheriff court, with no help from anyone except Smoking Hot and the crew at N2d.
    I was allowed to cross examine the then UKBA witnesses, vigorously and prolonged, wringing the admission of incometancy from their lying gobs.
    Laura the UKBA solicitor attempted to object, but the Sheriff Jack McGowan over ruled her cries and let me proceed.
    I feel I got a fair hearing at Ayr Sheriff court, SH advised me admirably even though he was unknowledgable of Scottish law.
    For them who don't know me I WON.

  4. And further to this I elected not to enter the witness box, No point in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
    Untruthful Customs employees did the job for me with ridiculous contradictory claims.
    My advice to anyone defending their property, Plan your defense well, Follow N2d advice, concentrate on what UKBF did wrong rather than what you think you did right.
    Smoking is now a taboo habit, so your disadvantaged through prejudiced right from the start.
    My opinion is Not to enter the witness box unless your facing defeat and nothing to lose.
    Others may disagree, but you will be cross examined by a Professional lawyer with legal assistant taking notes.
    Why risk it, You don't need to.

  5. Sometimes, I despair that such a travesty can take place in this country.

    How can a Magistrate do this? They are supposed to uphold the Law, not rubber-stamp the actions of incompetent jobsworths.
    How dare a Magistrate even consider doing this? Is this nothing out of the ordinary for them? Are they complacent, accustomed to getting away with it? I see no other explanation.

    Will the particular Magistrates concerned read these comments?
    Unlikely, but not impossible.
    Can they ever pretend to administer Justice again?
    They have blithely overridden Justice and the Law, to support the "System".

    I am utterly disgusted. Sickened.

  6. First off - the name of the barrister please. I'm not one who wholly endorsed the "first off plate rack of hired guns" - who was the arse?

    You probably knew already but- there's a new body dealing with magistrate's courts.

    The Office of Judicial Complaints which in the way of things is probably ironically named but possibly worth a go.

    Doesn't surprise me though - I've heard a magistrate say "You're guilty - I don't want to hear any evidence"

  7. Barrister here

  8. I suppose that the only course open is to appeal, but would the costs be prohibitive?
    I don't know enough, but I would have thought that the really important point is not whether or not the officer felt justified in confiscating the goods at the time, but whether or not the goods should have been returned after further clarification of the facts. It does not seem to me that the magistrate considered the evidence in that light.

  9. Not sure why you approved what the lawful advisor said. After all, the regular lawful administrator can't advise the magistrates to modify their choice and sit in a different way. In my LJA it is the magistrates who choose how to modify the legal courts in brief observe circumstances like this. You're right that HMCTS is muscling in on legal area but sometimes, as on this event, it is because magistrates are allowing them to.

    magistrates court

  10. You know "perth lawyers" are able to provide a number of legal services whereas these services connected with "magistrates court" , "district court" or "supreme court". They provide guidance regarding a number of legal matters and issues.


"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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