A PRINTER was caught red-handed producing counterfeit labels for bottles of a well-known fabric softener when trading standards officials walked in, a court heard.

Acting on a tip-off, consumer protection officers from Bolton Council raided Hot Print Design, on Kenyon Business Park, and found machines reeling off bogus stickers for the Comfort range, borough magistrates were told.

And when a search was conducted of the premises, off Pilkington Street, up to 1,900 such labels were recovered, which household goods giant Unilever later confirmed were fake, the court heard.

Questioned in interview, Top Print director Mohammed Faruk Ugharadar said he had been asked to carry out the £360 job by a man he could name only as 'John'.

Ugharadar, 45, of Allendale Gardens, Bolton, pleaded guilty to four offences of applying a material bearing a false trade mark and to four identical charges on behalf of Hot Print.

The court heard 500 counterfeit labels each had been printed for Comfort's Sunshiny Freshness, Pure and Lily and Riceflower ranges, and 400 for their Sunshiny Days line.

Adam Lodge, prosecuting, said the defendant was not present when trading standards officials visited Hot Print in August 2018 but they were allowed entry by two females working there.

Mr Lodge added: "On searching the premises they discovered a large printer, which was printing off yellow Comfort labels."

Further checks of a nearby area then uncovered hundreds of labels for the other lines, the court was told.

Interviewed about the labels, Ugharadar, who had no previous convictions, said he would have checked any paperwork with the purchaser before they handed the labels over.

Mr Lodge said Unilever was concerned of the damage to their reputation by the sale of counterfeit goods, pretending to be Comfort products, which did not meet their high quality control standards.

He told the court it was accepted though that the defendant did not have any links to the bottling and sale of the fabric softener.

Ugharadar said: "This gentleman came to my office, and I knew the Asian man who was with him, and I thought that this was genuine."

He told the court he had printed leaflets for local Subway and Euro Garages franchises and thought the man who had come to him with the Comfort labels had a similar arrangement with them.

The defendant and the company will be sentenced after the completion of pre-sentence reports.