A shop owner could lose his licence after he was found to be avoiding tax on high-strength beer and tobacco sold at discount prices.

Customs officers seized Polish beer, chewing tobacco and wine during an inspection of Best One on High Street, Edgware in May, after noticing they were being sold at unusually low prices.

It subsequently emerged the prices were low because they had been had been bought from a ‘man with a van’ and the relevant excise duty on the products had not been paid.

The total amount of tax avoided on the seized goods was £840.

It was the second time in a matter of months that the shop had been found to be selling non-duty paid items – customs officers visited in November last year and seized beer, vodka and chewing tobacco.

Avoiding tax and import duties enables businesses to undercut law-abiding shopkeepers operating in the same area.

At a meeting of a licensing sub-committee today (August 7), councillors discussed whether to strip the owner, Nadarajah Rajamohan, of his licence for failing to promote the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder.

Speaking on behalf Mr Rajamohan, Suresh Kanapath claimed he had been forced to give up some of the day-to-day running of the business due to health problems several years ago.

Mr Rajamothan said the items had been sold while the shop was being run by Yogalingham Pirasanthan, who was no longer involved with the business.

Mr Rajamothan claimed he had no knowledge the goods were being sold illegally when customs officers visited the shop.

He also said that his wife had since taken over the business and staff training and supervision had been improved.

Mr Rajamothan submitted modified licensing conditions for councillors to consider, under which he would not sell beer stronger than 6.5 per cent.

He also pledged to ensure VAT receipts were kept on the premises for 18 months.

But PC Francesca Downes of the Metropolitan Police told the committee said: “I do believe that from November to May he [Mr Rajamothan] had day-to-day control, knew about this happening and chose to continue his illegal behaviour anyway.”

She added that, with a great deal of competition between shops in the area, there was a likelihood the shop could revert to its illegal behaviour once again.

PC Downes said a suitable punishment would be a revocation or suspension of the licence – partly to send a message to other firms acting illegally.

The decision will be issued and posted on the council website within five working days.

Check the Barnet Times website for updates.