Big fine for furniture salesman

A MAN who sold furniture which later failed safety tests from the back of a lorry is today out of pocket to the tune of more than £4,000. Mark Lee was snared peddling dodgy settees on the streets of Felixstowe in a joint operation between Suffolk police and the county council's Trading Standards team.

A MAN who sold furniture which later failed safety tests from the back of a lorry is today out of pocket to the tune of more than £4,000.

Mark Lee was snared peddling dodgy settees on the streets of Felixstowe in a joint operation between Suffolk police and the county council's Trading Standards team.

The 52-year-old admitted three offences under the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations Act when he appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court.

Charges were brought after the foam filling of some of the settees failed fire tests, there was a lack of information as required by furniture fire safety regulations and there was a lack of permanent fire labels on the items seized.


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Justices fined Lee, of Neasham Road, Darlington, a total of £3,815 and ordered him to meet costs of £1,000.

The offences took place on June 15 and July 26.

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Furniture was seized from Lee's van during the course of Operation Hassle, a dedicated day of action targeting rogue traders.

He had been stopped by police in the town's High Street following reports that a man had been approaching people and offering to sell them furniture.

The van contained nine items of furniture, which was seized in order to ascertain whether they met the necessary safety requirements.

An examination identified that seven out of the nine items did not have permanent labels affixed to them. Two items were sent for testing and one failed. Meanwhile, Lee could not provide any safety information about the furniture.

The court heard how Lee had been prosecuted by North Yorkshire Trading Standards for an identical offence in January 2007, when he received a two-year conditional discharge.

Ian Duckworth, mitigating, said his client thought the furniture met the required safety standards when it was bought from a supplier.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Mr Lee was driving around and selling door-to-door from the back of his van.

“Selling door to door is something we are strongly working to eradicate and we would advise anyone who is approached by a door-to-door seller not to purchase anything from them and to contact us and let us know where there are operating.

“The items Mr Lee was selling were highly flammable and did not comply with fire safety regulations.

“The significant amount of the fine imposed is a stark warning to anyone who has any ideas of doing something similar.

“Trading Standards officers are out there and ready to catch anyone breaking the law.”

What do you make of the case? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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