Page last updated at 18:06 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 19:06 UK

Cannabis mistake over flower firm

A flower business came close to being raided by Northamptonshire police after being mistaken for a cannabis factory.

A police officer went to the Tom Butler Flower Hire factory in Rock Street in Wellingborough after a report was made, apparently by a council inspector.

Sales manager Vince Sherkle said the police officer had said a raid was being considered at the premises, which has been in the town for some 40 years.

Northamptonshire Police said it had to look into any alleged illegal activity.

Mr Sherkle said: "We rent out hanging baskets and window boxes, mainly for commercial premises, businesses, railways stations, pubs, clubs, that sort of thing.

'Spiky leaves'

"We're not a shop, we are a factory, and we have been in Rock Street in Wellingborough for many years.

"From what I understand from the police, the man who reported us was a council inspector who was looking at a nearby building that's being extended.

"If he'd looked up our address he'd have seen we are a registered flower hire business, or if he'd gone round the front he would have seen the huge sign.

Mr Sherkle said he thought the plant the man may have got confused about was Boston Fern, which has similar "spiky leaves" to cannabis.

He said the policeman sent to check the building "did say it was a good job he came round first because there was talk of a raid with a warrant".

Sgt Dave Harley, from the Wellingborough East Safer Community Team, said: "We received information to suggest cannabis may be being grown at a premises in Rock Street and as a result began an investigation.

"As a result of these inquiries it transpired that, in fact, the premises were not being used illegally."

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