LANCASHIRE County Council's trading standards team has been praised for its determination in bringing justice to a prolific seller of illegal tobacco.

Salim Balesaria was jailed for 18 months in June 2017 for selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco and tobacco products without health warnings from two shops in Nelson and one in Accrington.

The intellectual property office crime and enforcement report revealed the lengths to which Balesaria worked with others to hide their illegal activities and throw investigators off the scent.

The report outlines how the shop assistants and the licensee gave false details as to the owner, false details were listed with non-domestic rates, phone calls from invented business owners inventing false trails were made to trading standards, and cash was paid for goods at the wholesalers, leaving very little evidence of who was behind the fraudulent businesses.

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of the council, with responsibility for trading standards, said: "We have an excellent trading standards team, whose record speaks for itself in terms of the number of convictions secured over recent years of people involved in the supply of illegal tobacco.

"This report shows the lengths they will go to in bringing these people to justice, and just how determined they have to be to overcome often sophisticated attempts to cover up these activities, and the identities of those responsible."