Fake wine sold in a quarter of Havering’s off-licences

Counterfeit wine was being sold in nearly a quarter of independent off-licences in the borough, a Havering Council investigation revealed.

Officers seized 340 bottles of fake Jacob’s Creek from 19 premises over the past week.

The bottles are almost identical to originals except bungling counterfeiters misspelled labels, missing an A in Australia to read: WINE OF AUSTRLIA.

More than 140 bottles were seized from two traders alone - one in Hornchurch and one in Romford.

The fake wine is of very low quality with an inferior taste, but tests show the contents are not harmful to health if consumed, a spokesman for the council said.

The counterfeit bottles are being sold at around the same price as genuine Jacob’s Creek.

The seizures followed a report warning from the genuine manufacturers.

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Cllr Geoff Starns, cabinet member for licensing, said: “We don’t want consumers to be ripped off by buying illicit wine – and at the same time we want to protect jobs in local responsible retailers who suffer as a result of this crime.”

The council is warning retailers to be extra vigilant and to only purchase from legitimate sources.

Any trader found selling counterfeit drinks risks prosecution and a review of their alcohol licence.

Concerned that they may have inadvertently purchased counterfeit wine, should contact the council on: 01708 43434