Ex-Cleveland policemen deny cigarette smuggling operation

Mr and Mrs Thompson
Image caption Mr and Mrs Thompson both deny money laundering

Five people, including two former policemen, have denied involvement in a £22m cigarette smuggling operation.

Ex-Cleveland officer Gary Thompson, of Hartlepool, pleaded not guilty to money laundering, at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr Thompson and fellow ex-Cleveland officer Anthony Lamb, from Coxhoe, both deny a further seven charges.

Those charges include conspiring to evade cigarette duty, possession of documents used in fraud and producing false VAT documents.

Mr Thompson's wife, Amanda Thompson, from Hartlepool, also pleaded not guilty to money laundering.

Two lorry drivers, Barry Eldon, from Doncaster, and David Lister, of Downham Market, deny conspiring to evade duty on cigarettes.

The case was adjourned and the five are due to return to Newcastle Crown Court on 7 May, for a trial that is expected to last 8 weeks.

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