Banaras Hussain: Toxic skin lightening cream seller sentenced

media captionToxic skin cream seller escapes jail

A shopkeeper who sold toxic skin lightening creams has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Banaras Hussain, 50, from Tottenham, was fined £8,000 for selling products containing banned skincare ingredients in Peckham.

The products were found to contain hydroquinone which can damage the liver and the nervous system.

He was given a 15-week suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Hussain was also ordered to pay court costs of £13,027, as well as £4,888 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The harmful products are marketed and sold to consumers from African and Asian cultures, the court heard.

They were found to contain hydroquinone and corticosteroids. Dangers include thinning of the skin, premature ageing, patchy skin, liver damage, neuropathy and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Sentencing, Judge Jeremy Donne told Hussain: "I am quite satisfied that you were marketing the products for profit because you were aware they were in demand by people from these cultures."

media captionProducts containing hydroquinone can damage the liver and nervous system

Matthew Pardoe, prosecuting on behalf of Southwark Council, said two separate visits were made to Hussain's store - Shaba Hair & Cosmetics - in 2015. The first of which was a "covert operation" by an officer from the council's trading standards team.

The officer purchased Caro White, a cream containing 13% hydroquinone and another lotion which contained corticosteroids - both prescription-only drugs.

Both products were retrieved from behind the counter and neither were labelled as containing the restricted ingredients, the court heard.

Some 2,500 products were later seized from the store in Peckham's Rye Lane on 9 December, 2015.

Southwark Council said most of the creams were found concealed in the back of the shop and were sold on an "under-the-counter basis".

Mr Pardoe said that the creams carried "significant side effects to those who use it".

He added that hydroquinone was a chemical for use in hair dyes and bleach, adding: "It is not supposed to be applied to the skin."

Hussain's company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £13,027.

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