December 5 2013 Latest news:
Chloë Mayer, Senior Reporter
Monday, August 20, 2012
Bungling council chiefs have promised to pay compensation to a shopkeeper who threatened to sue them after they falsely accused him of selling fake Olympics decorations and confiscated his goods.
A council investigation later revealed the products were legitimate – and that the Trading Standards officer responsible for the blunder was using the wrong list of prohibited Games logos.
Newsagent Hamdy Shahein was offered £2,000 for lost trade and £200 for the “inconvenience” in a letter he received from Hackney Council’s legal department on Saturday (August 19).
In Thursday’s Gazette he had announced he was considering suing the authority, despite their earlier apology, for damaging his reputation and costing him sales.
The shopkeeper, who runs Hamdy’s News in Stoke Newington High Street, was mortified when a team of Trading Standards officers called for police backup when they swooped on his shop just before the Olympic torch passed through the borough on July 21.
He had spent £250 decorating the outside of his store with London 2012 bunting and balloons, and gave away £150 worth of plastic flags to children. The products were also for sale inside his shop.
But the officials forced him to take down the decorations and confiscated the goods, claiming they were counterfeit. In the Gazette the following week, a council spokesman wrongly insisted the products were “unofficial”.
The interim head of licensing and regulatory services wrote to Hamdy to apologise for “any distress or inconvenience caused and assure you that this was not our intention. The incident escalated in a manner which the officers involved had not intended.”
Hamdy said the apology and offer of compensation is “a step in the right direction”, but added he feels the amount is “paltry” when the “slander, libel and harassment” he suffered is taken into account.
He said he will donate the money to charity, and hopes the council will increase their offer for that reason.
“Even though a lot of my customers told me to sue, I decided not to. It’s tax payers’ money they’re offering me, and that’s all our money,” he said.
“I wanted them to publicly apologise to embarrass them - because they embarrassed me. Now I just want to close the chapter.”