A COMPANY behind a national chain of discount stores has been fined £3,500 for selling unsafe goods in Weymouth.

99p Stores Limited pleaded guilty to the charge of supplying goods prohibited by safety regulations at its store in St Mary Street.

The company’s commercial director, Hussein Lalani, was in court to hear the decision.

99p Stores Ltd was brought to Weymouth Magistrates court by Dorset County Council Trading Standards after the results of an investigation that took place last year.

The product under review was a set of Nail Nation nail varnishes, which contained Bis(2-ethylhexyl), a phthalate listed in the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations.

The phthalate is also contrary to section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act.

Jon Harris, an officer from the Dorset Trading Standards Service, represented the county council in court.

He revealed tests were made on the product at Worcestershire Scientific Services between April and May last year.

Upon discovering the phthalate, questions were then put in writing to the company.

Magistrates heard Mr Harris suggest that Bis(2-ethylhexyl) had been shown to impair fertility.

Mr Harris added that it wasn’t the first time the company had been found supplying unsafe products.

He highlighted a case brought against the company by Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards in February.

It was fined £16,500 for selling children’s toys containing toxins above the legal safe level.

Solicitor Alan Millband, speaking on behalf of the company, said the nail varnish sets sold in Weymouth, came from a Chinese supplier and that there was a ‘mix up between orders’.

He said: “99p Stores Ltd is a retailer of goods at a specific price but it is not in the market of supplying poor quality or substandard items.”

Mr Millband said the potential for harm was acknowledged but no actual harm had been caused.

He added: “The amounts the test certificates showed were not huge in themselves.”

Mr Millband confirmed the company immediately stopped selling the product in its stores and quarantined remaining items after the test results.

He added: “There was another shipment en-route, which was turned back on the instruction of the company.”

Mr Millband said the incident was ‘dealt with fully, frankly and in a non-evasive way’ and asked magistrates to consider this in their decision-making.

The bench said they recognised there was no intention or motive to cause harm and acknowledged the company’s cooperation with relevant authorities throughout the process.

In addition to the £3,500 fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £944 towards Dorset County Council, with 28 days to pay the amount in full.

Both Coun Peter Finney, the county council's cabinet member for community services, and Ivan Hancock, the county council's trading standards service manager, spoke after the case.

Coun Finney said: “Our trading standards officers are in regular contact with Dorset-based businesses and provide advice to help them comply with safety requirements.

“This work helps support local business and protects consumers. If any local supplier is unsure of their legal requirements I would urge them to contact the trading standards business advice line on 01305 224702 for guidance.”

Mr Hancock said: “Businesses importing cosmetic products play a critical role in ensuring unsafe goods are not sold to UK consumers.

"They are legally responsible for checking that all cosmetics are safe before distributing them."

He added: "Once prohibited goods have been distributed and sold it is very difficult to ensure these do not put consumers at risk. Importers need to be vigilant and diligent and where consumers’ safety is put at risk by their failures formal action is always a consideration for us.