Public Analyst's results help secure £1.6m proceeds of crime order against teeth whitening traders
Welsh Public Analysts “Minton Treharne & Davies” have been involved in the assessment and testing of the tooth whitening products, and provided supporting Statements of Witness in a case where three members of a Cheshire-based family were prosecuted for selling unsafe teeth whitening products.
After a three-year nationwide investigation by Powys County Council, the family have been ordered to pay back £1.6m that they made from their criminality of face prison. The teeth whitening products did not comply with safety laws and were unsafe due to harmful levels of hydrogen peroxide, with one victim receiving hospital treatment for burns after using a product.
Tests showed the product to contain 11% hydrogen peroxide – some 110 times the legal limit for products that are sold directly to consumers. The law states that tooth whitening products containing or releasing between 0.1-6% hydrogen peroxide should not be made directly available to the consumer other than through treatment by a GDC-registered dentist (or dental hygienist, dental therapist or clinical dental technician working to a dentist’s prescription).
John Barry Hargreaves, his wife Jean and son Matthew Hargreaves, from Knutsford in Cheshire, were prosecuted in September 2016 for running a fraudulent business.
Now the council’s Trading Standards Service has secured a proceeds of crime order against the Hargreaves at a hearing at Caernarvon Crown Court yesterday (Thursday, May 24). The family have been ordered to pay £1.6m from their assets or face the threat of prison.
The council conduced a financial investigation into the criminal benefit that the Hargreaves family had made from their illegal teeth whitening activity, having already restrained property totalling over £2m and resulting in the proceeds of crime action.
During the proceeds of crime hearing at Caernarvon Crown Court, the court heard that the trio had made £2.5m from their criminality.
His Honour Judge Harris-Jenkins ordered Matthew Hargreaves to pay back £1,096,500 within three months. If he fails to pay he will have to serve a seven-year prison term.
Jean Hargreaves was ordered to pay £519,940 back and John Hargreaves must pay back £995. The pair have to pay these amounts with three months or serve a five-year jail term and a three-month jail term respectively.
The Judge also imposed a compliance order compelling Matthew Hargreaves to make regular updates to the council’s Legal Service as to the progression of the properties being sold.
Judge Harris-Jenkins commended Powys County Council’s Trading Standards for this investigation in protecting consumers from unsafe and mis-described goods and wished to provide a commendation to the senior investigating officer Nikki Davies Wheeler and to all trading standards staff involved.
Cllr James Evans, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: “We take our responsibilities to protect consumers seriously and we were protecting the public from unsafe goods which is important.”
Clive Jones, the council’s Professional Lead for Trading Standards said: “This is a huge deterrent to criminals to stop them committing serious offences – if you do continue – we will take all your assets.”
For more information on the Hargreaves and teeth whitening prosecution Click Here