On 31 March this year, at Reading Magistrates Court, Francis Gary Damsell (48) of Gibside in Chester Le Street, County Durham, pleaded guilty to three offences of selling fish which had been given false descriptions of their species.
In November 2015, Damsell had cold called a property on Crazies Hill, selling fish from his van. In her complaint to trading standards, the home owner said she had felt coerced into buying fish from Damsell, and purchasing 20 pieces for £196. She said she was not happy to buy that quantity, so reported the incident.
During their investigations, trading standards submitted the fish for DNA testing, which confirmed they were not the species referred to on their labels. Coley was labelled as halibut, river cobbler as turbot, and an unknown breed of fish labelled as bass. These are offences contrary to Section 14 of the Food Safety Act 1990.
Damsell was therefore sentenced to a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £196 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and costs of £2,723.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, Wokingham Borough Council’s executive member for resident services, said: "This is yet another example of the pressure put upon residents by some doorstep sellers. In this case, the goods were clearly misrepresented and not one but all three types of fish descriptions turned out to be false.
"This case should send a message to anyone considering misleading consumers in this way that it will not be tolerated. If anyone wished to report unfair trading they should contact trading standards using the Citizens Advice Consumer Line on 03454 040 506."
The trading standards service is part of the public protection partnership which is a shared service delivering environmental health, trading standards and licensing services for Wokingham Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Borough Council and West Berkshire Council.