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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Second offshore off-licence sails
Cornish Maiden
The Cornish Maiden will also sell goods off Hartlepool
The owners of Britain's first offshore off-licence have announced they are launching a second vessel.

UK customs seized 100,000 of cargo from the first boat, Rich Harvest, which was moored off Hartlepool selling cut-price cigarettes and alcohol.

However, officials have now said they will return the stock, according to Phil Berriman, one of the owners.

Mr Berriman said they will be back in business on Tuesday, with their second boat - the Cornish Maiden.

Customs detained 100,000 worth of goods, bought at a hypermarket in Germany, when the 72ft yacht Rich Harvest took refuge from a storm in July.

But Mr Berriman, 46, from Stockton, and business partner Trevor Lyons, 53, from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, sought an injunction in the High Court in an effort to recover their stock.

Mr Berriman has informed Customs and Excise that he will be collecting his stock on Monday, which he intends to sell from the Cornish Maiden.

The Rich Harvest at Hartlepool marina
Customs have agreed to return stock seized from the Rich Harvest

He said: "Customs say we can stay in business as long as we advise our customers to declare anything they purchase.

"We'll certainly do that, but I'd like to see them police it."

Mr Berriman said they will only be selling goods from the Cornish Maiden for the time being.

He said: "We're just waiting to see what happens. As soon as we're confident enough, we'll re-launch the Rich Harvest.

"We're not sure what to expect at the moment and if, for whatever reason, we were to lose a boat it might as well be the cheaper one."

A spokesperson for Customs and Excise said: "People who have not travelled to another country may not purchase excise goods outside of UK territorial waters and return to the UK, without paying UK excise duty on the full amount.

"Anyone who attempts to do so is committing an offence and their goods, and any vessel used to transport them, are liable to forfeiture.

"Anyone who knowingly assists someone to commit such an offence are themselves guilty of an offence and may be prosecuted.

"We have written to Mr Berriman explaining the legal position."

Trevor Lyons, co-owner
"Customs have acknowledged that they had no right to take the goods off us"


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