New boss of Wakefield store has never sold illegal tobacco, hearing told

The new boss of a Wakefield store has never been involved in the sale of illicit cigarettes despite reports to the contrary, a hearing's been told.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 1:57 pm
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 1:58 pm
The store sits on Kirkgate in Wakefield.

Omar Ahmed has taken over at Wis Euro Market, on Kirkgate, after Wakefield Council granted him permission to take over the premises.

Police papers released ahead of the hearing claimed he'd "been involved in premises selling illicit counterfeit tobacco".

However, a licensing hearing on Thursday morning heard that he had no record of selling illegal cigarettes.

Mr Ahmed was granted permission to sell alcohol from the store at a hearing on Thursday.

Emails from Preston Council, which were not made public, were shown to the panel of three councillors and confirmed that Mr Ahmed had never been involved in such activity.

The hearing was told he had in fact taken over a premises in Preston where illegal tobacco had previously been sold, and had "turned it around".

Mr Ahmed's solicitor, Victoria Cartmell, said: "He's had phone calls from people saying, "Were you involved in this (the sale of illicit cigarettes)?" He hasn't.

"He's a family man. He was approved British citizenship in March, and believes this incorrect information may affect that and his right to a fair (hearing) today."

West Yorkshire Police still objected to Mr Ahmed's application to take over WIS, citing a previous conviction for using a false work permit in 2008 as evidence of "dishonesty".

But the police's barrister, Stephen Littlewood, accepted that another part of their submissions put before councillors, "read like Mr Ahmed has been involved in (selling counterfeit cigarettes)". But he added, "I'd like to make it clear that he hasn't."

The police also had to withdraw a claim that Mr Ahmed had been "dishonest" by not declaring his 2008 offence on his application form, after it was revealed that the conviction was spent and he was under no obligation to mention it.

Ms Cartmell said her client had accepted his guilt on that occasion, but had an otherwise clean record.

She said: "At the time he didn't have a work permit and he wanted to work. He accepts he made a mistake.

"He wants to be a part of the Wakefield community. An objection to a premises licence transfer should only be made in exceptional circumstances and these are not exceptional circumstances.

"He's got a track record in turning problem premises around.

"He's invited the police in and said, "If you have any problems, I will fix them". He wants to do everything right.

"Surely that should be encouraged."

After deliberations by the panel of three councillors, the police's objection was rejected and Mr Ahmed's application was granted.

*As stated, a previous story incorrectly stated that Mr Ahmed had a record of selling illicit tobacco. We are happy to clarify that this is not the case, and that the activity related to the premises he had taken over. We apologise for any confusion caused.

Local Democracy Reporting Service