May 23 2013 Latest news:
Chloë Mayer, Senior Reporter
Monday, August 13, 2012
Bungling bosses at Hackney Council have been left red-faced today (Monday) after having to admit they falsely accused a shopkeeper of having fake Olympics decorations and products, and forced him to take them down unnecessarily.
Furious newsagent Hamdy Shahein has blasted Trading Standards officials for the slur, which he says damaged his reputation and cost him lost sales, and says he is now considering suing the council.
Hamdy had spent £250 decorating the outside of his shop before the Torch relay made its way through the borough on July 21, but was left shaken after “heavy-handed” Trading Standards officers instructed him to take down the Games-themed bunting, flags, and balloons and remove the products from his shelves.
The shopkeeper, who runs Hamdy’s News in Stoke Newington High Street, tried to explain the products were all legitimate because he’d bought them from a licensed wholesaler – and the crowd gathered in the street outside to watch the relay remonstrated with the officers too, begging them to allow the decorations to remain.
But the officials called for back up, and when six police officers turned up Hamdy reluctantly took down the decorations.
Hamdy, who described the move as “horrible” and “heavy-handed”, said he was so upset he nearly shut up shop and went home and he later called for a public apology.
The council stood by their decision and insisted in that week’s Gazette that Hamdy’s products were “unofficial”, but earlier a Hackney Council spokesman said: “Our officers mistakenly determined that some of the merchandise on display in the store wasn’t genuine.
“We would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr Shahein as this has since proven not to be not the case.
“We got this one wrong and we will be in touch with Mr Shahein to apologise to him directly.”
But Hamdy said he feels their words are too little and too late, and added: “Due to the collective action of the Trading Standards, the police, and the Olympic officials, I lost a lot of business revenue since I was prevented from selling products which I had obtained through the correct legal channels.
“I couldn’t even watch anything to do with the Olympics because I was so upset about it all.
“People are telling me I should sue and I’m thinking about it.”