Drink row goes to court

CUSTOMS officials in Felixstowe are today locked in a battle with an international company over a consignment of an exotic drink.London-based Fovitor International failed in a bid in Ipswich on Monday to overturn a decision to seize 2,500 litres of its palm juice.

CUSTOMS officials in Felixstowe are today locked in a battle with an international company over a consignment of an exotic drink.

London-based Fovitor International failed in a bid in Ipswich on Monday to overturn a decision to seize 2,500 litres of its palm juice.

Officials carrying out checks at the port in January discovered that the company had tried to import the drink from Ghana without declaring it.

The drink was detained and when a forensics team carried out tests it was found to contain four per cent alcohol, which would have been liable for import duty had the goods been declared.


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Company director, Kumordzie Fovitor, has claimed the omission was a genuine error and that the excess alcohol was caused by fermentation.

Speaking to the Evening Star, he said: “I have imported these goods into the country many times. I corrected the invoice and I have paid the excess duty on the other goods in the consignment I should have been paying for.”

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At the hearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, Mr Fovitor tried to get the goods back by arguing that customs officers had kick-started the fermentation process by opening the bottles of drink too far in advance of testing it.

But instead magistrates slapped him with a £3,000 bill for court courts after his arguments failed.

Mr Fovitor, whose London-based company imports and distributes food and drink, said the decision was “ridiculous” and is now seeking legal advice on whether to appeal.

A spokeswoman for HM Revenue and Customs today welcomed the court decision.

Palm juice or palm wine is created from the sap of the palm tree. The sap is initially non-alcoholic, but can ferment within just a few hours to produce an aromatic wine with an alcohol content of up to four per cent.

What do you think of this case? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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