Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fine over Made in Scotland claim

The owners of a number of tartan souvenir shops have been fined £4,500 for selling Chinese-made cashmere clothes from a shelf with the label "Made in Scotland".

Gold Brothers, which owns stores in Edinburgh's Royal Mile, had already pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of "misleading" customers.

It follows two test purchases in 2009 by trading standards officers.

Sentence was passed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Gold Brothers, which pleaded guilty last month, was trading as Abercrombie Cashmere.

Having established the garments were of Chinese origin, officers visited the store on 15 September 2010 and 293 cashmere jumpers were seized.

They were all described on the "shelf-edge label" as Scottish but were subsequently identified as having been imported from China.

Investigations with the UK supplier revealed that the owners of Gold Brothers knew the garments were from outside Scotland.

Officers questioned an employee in the shop who said he knew the labels were inaccurate but he had failed to take any action to remove them.

Sheriff Fiona Reith QC heard that the shelf had previously held items made in Scotland, but the labels had not been removed when the Chinese garments were put on display because of "human error" by the staff.

Management had not been aware of this or of the visit by trading standards.

Defence solicitor Robert Millar pointed out that the items themselves had not been labelled as being made in Scotland.

He stressed that the mistake had occurred in only one shop.

Mr Millar said his client's accepted it should not have happened but it had been a genuine error.

"There was no attempt to deliberately mislead the public that what they were buying was Scottish-manufactured cashmere" he said.

"The pricing was what they properly ought to have been priced at."

Robert Aldridge, Edinburgh City Council's environmental leader, said: "It is important for Edinburgh's reputation and Scotland's tourist industry that goods are accurately described and are genuine.

"We are committed to protecting the reputation of Scottish manufacturers and ensuring that goods which have a misleading product description are identified and removed from sale.

"I can assure the public that our trading standards team will continue to take robust enforcement action to deal with any retailer who misleadingly describes and presents goods in this way."

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