Talking West Cheshire

Joint operation thwarts fake washing powder scam

20 April 2010

The bizarre story of 25 tons of fake Persil from China which ended up being packaged in a Cheshire warehouse will have a sequel in Chester Crown Court on Monday, 17 May.

Six men, all from the Stoke area, will be sentenced for their part in a failed attempt to “flood the market with fake washing powder”.

Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards officers, private investigators hired by chemical giant, Unilever, and police, were all involved in a major investigation to smash the illegal operation.

The gang shipped the powder from Fujian Province South East China to Felixstow, and transported it to a unit at the Phoenix Centre on the Winsford Industrial Estate.

Replica Persil boxes arrived at the same destination via a separate container and when Trading Standards officers and police raided the warehouse in September 2008, they found six pallets of filled and sealed 9kg Persil boxes.

After a six-day trial at Chester Crown Court, Richard Brayford, 43, of Whiston, Stoke, was found guilty under the Trade Marks Act of possession of an infringing article with a view to sell.

Judge Roger Dutton told the defendant: "You have been found guilty of a substantially dishonest enterprise which would have duped innocent members of the public into parting with substantial amounts of cash.”

Fortunately, the scam had been ”nipped in the bud at a early stage” and no bogus Persil had found its way onto the market place.

Five members of the gang, Steven Charlesworth, 46, Justin Campbell, 38, Martin Forrester, 39, Nicholas Moult, 42, Michael Baggaley, 24, had pleaded guilty at a earlier hearing.

After the jury had returned a guilty verdict it was revealed that Brayford had previously served nine months imprisonment for trading with intent to defraud and had also been disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

A spokesman for Unilever said: ”This prosecution marks the successful conclusion of a close working partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards, whose efforts have brought Richards Brayford and his five partners in crime to justice."