An importer who supplied a local shop with DVDs falsely marked as ‘unclassified’ was sentenced at Luton Crown Court on October 18 following a conviction by jury last month on eight related charges.
The case began in early 2012 when Luton Council Trading Standards officers seized some Polish DVDs from a shop in the town centre thought to have false classification labels.
The DVDs were supplied to the shop by E&B Consulting Ltd, who later changed their name to Play Media Distribution Ltd, of an address in London.
Investigations revealed Play Media and its directors, Ewa and Bartosz Dryzner, knew the DVDs had to be unclassified, so they put false classification markings on them.
Despite the overwhelming evidence against the company and its directors, they pleaded not guilty and elected for trial at Crown Court.
They sought to challenge both the validity of the Video Recordings Act claiming it violated European law, and claimed council officers failed to follow their own prosecution procedures.
After a protracted hearing, the court rejected the arguments against the prosecution.
In sentencing, the judge acknowledged the DVDs were not ‘video nasties, pornographic or otherwise undesirable’ but believed the defendants knew what they were doing was wrong. All three defendants were fined £500 each and ordered to pay the Council’s full costs of over £10,000 caused by the ‘defendants’ unmeritorious challenges and defence’.
Cllr Mohammed Ashraf, portfolio holder for trading standards, said: “We are pleased the judge took the view that taxpayers should not foot the bill for this case. The DVD classification system is there to ensure films on sale are suitable for particular age groups.
“Not getting films classified or marking them falsely risks children seeing unsuitable films.”
He added: “We urge all shops in Luton selling DVDs to check their stock now. If your DVDs are not properly marked, remove them from sale. In the last two weeks officers have seized unclassified DVDs from another shop in Luton. Investigations are ongoing.”
If you are a trader and unsure of your stock, call the Council’s Trading Standards Service on 01582 547262. If you think you have bought an unclassified DVD which has been falsely marked, call 08454 04 05 06.
No action was taken against the Luton retailer.