A SHOP has been forced to hand over its alcohol licence after selling counterfeit cigarettes and attempting to dupe the council with false statements about an illegal worker.

Staff from Park Lane Food and Wine in Tilehurst had the chance to defend the business at a hearing on Thursday after Reading Borough Council raised a number of licence breaches.

Councillors said revoking the licence was the only 'appropriate and proportionate' response after a 41-year-old Pakistani man was caught working illegally in November 2017.

When questioned by the council, Thames Valley Police and Immigration Enforcement, the designated premises supervisor claimed the employee had only been there for a week and was on training.

However, the same worker had been present at a routine food hygiene inspection and had signed some paperwork.

Kripleshkumar Patwa, the current DPS, asked the committee to consider a temporary suspension and explained how the site could be given a clean slate after stating his intention to sell the shop.

Richard French, a member of the council's Licensing team, said he was left 'baffled' after being told the illegal worker had been left alone with the keys to the shop despite being a trainee.

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He added: "These offences are some of the most serious that I have seen. It is baffling to all of us as to why these incidents occurred in the first place and also why we have had no response.

"We are still none the wiser and we have not received a satisfactory explanation."

The council's Trading Standards team carried out a separate inspection in October 2017 and seized 17 packets of counterfeit cigarette after a regular customer raised concerns.

The hearing on Thursday heard how packets with identical picture and unique codes were being sold for £11 each.

Further concerns were raised by council staff over inadequate staff training and poor CCTV system, which had the incorrect time.

Records of refusal to sell booze were also substandard, with staff simply writing 'white boy' or 'Asian boy' in the log book.

Park Lane Food and Wine also failed a Challenge 25 test purchase on an 18-year-old in July 2015, one month after the current owner is believed to have taken charge.

Councillor Paul Woodward, chair of the committee, said: "The explanation has not been credible in relation to the illegal worker and no explanation has been received for the breaches witnessed during the visits."

Mr Patwa has the right to appeal the decision.