Source of Article - Square Mile News: (April 2010)
Trading Standards seized 294 products containing unlicenced pharmaceuticals and 109 that breached cosmetic safety regulations
One popular product contained over twice the safe level of a banned topical steroid and others were prescription-only and capable of causing dangerous skin-thinning, permanent colour-change and the risk of secondary infection.
Iqbal Muhammed, 36, and his wife Farahat Muhammed, 33, both of Baring Road, Lee, owners of Super Grows Cosmetics, East Street, Walworth, South-East London were prosecuted after an undercover operation by Southwark Council’s team.
The maximum sentence for the offences is two years' imprisonment.
Both pleaded guilty at City of London Magistrates' Court to selling three tubes of £2.99 'Movate' cream – containing prescription-only Clobestosol Propionate – to an enforcement officer on January 20, last year.
They were raided a week later and also admitted possessing skin-lightening creams containing further prescription-only Clobestosol Propionate; Betamethasone Dipropionate and Flucinonide, contrary to the Medicines Act on January 26.
They also admitted exposing for supply Clair Liss Genial Toning Body Lotion, Clear Essence Skin Body Milk and Skin Light la Crème, containing banned Hydroquinone, contrary to the Consumer Protection Act.
Mr. Muhammed was cautioned in 2005 for similar offences at a Brixton Afro-Caribbean cosmetics and beauty shop.
"You can go to prison, Mr. Muhammed, for these offences. They are extremely serious matters," added Mrs Littlechild.
"They were sold knowing it was illegal by Mr. Muhammed. He has continued to sell chemicals to people foolish enough to want to bleach their skin."
Prosecutor Mr. Christopher Foulkes told the court Trading Standards twice warned the store the previous year of the dangers of supplying products with banned ingredients.
When quizzed Mr. Muhammed claimed he inherited the rogue stock after buying the shop in 2008, but dates on the illegal products revealed many had been bought by the defendants.
The three tubes of 'Movate' cream bought in the test-purchase contained Clobestosol Propionate.
"That is a topical steroid ranked number one in the U.S.A. It is very potent, prescription-only and should only be prescribed by an experienced dermatologist," added Mr. Foulkes.
"Betamethasone Dipropionate and Flucinonide are both also potent topical steroids ranked number two in the U.S.A.
The couple’s lawyer Mr. Stuart Frame told the court: "The products were bought from an itinerant African lady that sometimes pops into the shop and sells the products out of a suitcase.
"The products are extremely popular in Afro-Caribbean areas. There is a high demand and Mr. Muhammed succumbed to commercial pressures. Mrs Muhammed had a far lesser role.
"It is sad perhaps that people feel the need to alter their complexions, but the demand exists."
The couple were sued by the shop’s former owner and were ordered to pay £50,000.
"They found themselves under considerable commercial pressure. These offences were not committed out of greed," added Mr. Frame.
"This case has caused incredible anxiety to them. They are terrified.
"Mr. Muhammed fears he could go to prison for this and if he did the business would not survive."
Mr. Muhammed was sentenced to two months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £500 costs.
Mother-of-two Mrs Muhammed was conditionally discharged for twelve months and ordered to pay £500 costs.