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16-7-2018 9:39 pm  #1

Help / Advice

Hoping someone can offer help and advice on my current situation.

I Recently had cigarettes seized at Airport, (80 sleeves) questioned for over 2 hours, unfortunately did not know about this forum so no SOT or interview recording.

I Informed Border Officers in interview that majority are for my own personal use and 20 sleeves for gifts for family. 

Advised the reason for buying is simply due to the cost saving compared to the £9.56 a pack I pay in UK.  When asked about affordability, Income and outgoings I Showed officer bank account  statement  showing  details of approx. £4200 in current account, and re iterated the savings I will be making in this  purchase of cigarettes. 

Many more questions followed regarding my smoking habits, where my income comes from, employment, outgoings etc.   Officers commented that  the gift amount was high and insinuated this  was it not in return for a favour of some kind,  I advised it wasn't and that  I was generous. .  

Asked if  I had any open boxes of cigarettes on me, ( I didn't at the time), I had my lighter which they proceeded to strip down to see how much gas was remaining (it was half full).

After over 2 hours of, questioning, leaving room to check with superiors, coming backing into room, leaving again to check with head office,  they then advised I needed to provide further evidence in the form of 9 months of hard copy bank statements and receipts showing proof of purchase.

I was given a contact number and interviewing officers number to call and organise further evidence.

I was not given any official  paperwork, I was not given a reason stating my cigarettes have been seized!

I immediately sent for bank statements and  found majority of  receipts in my suitcase. 

statements took 4 weeks to come, I immediately called number and sent in evidence (recorded delivery)

By this time I still had not received a section 156 notice or any details of if and why goods have been seized.

I also filled out a notice of claim and sent that to Border Force postal claims as I was aware 30 days was approaching. ( this was also sent recorded)

To date I have not had any update

No section 156 - 

When attempted to contact interviewing officer I  have been fobbed of saying he is on annual leave

Spoke to numerous other Border force officers a dozen times and have left my number advised someone will call back

no calls received

Nothing received from Border force H / O

I'm left completely in the dark and its been approximately 7 weeks.

Extremely frustrated as I'm having to pay full price now for ciggies when I legally purchased a years supply form an EU country and have had them what I believe to be illegally taken by UK border force.

Maximum disruption seem to be the order of the day!

Anyone else had  a similar experience and  can offer help and advice on what to do next?



17-7-2018 6:44 am  #2

Re: Help / Advice

Hello wolfy.

Since you were given the opportunity to provide further evidence and not issued with a seizure notice, it sounds as if your goods are currently detained rather than seized. It may also account for the fact that you have not received an answer to your claim.

This at least gives you an opportunity to bomb them with as much info as possible to support your claim. There is a usage calculator on the forum, probably in the help section. This will show what you smoke per day, month and year along with the savings. It is invaluable so long as you get it right eg 14000 is approx 38 per day for 1 person for a year.

Attestations from anyone who regularly receives your gifts can help along with a trip log of journeys over the last 12 months and purchases. Add anything else you can think of but do it quickly before your goods are officially seized.

It is not unusual for a case to be delayed because an officer is absent. We had one case delayed for a year. 


17-7-2018 8:04 am  #3

Re: Help / Advice

Thanks for the reply Eazyrider,

Been reading forum and advice is to request officers notebook copy.
I was not asked to sign an actual notebook however officer was taking notes during interview.
Am  I right in thinking I can forward more evidence such as usage spreadsheet?
Is there anything else that may help my case?
Have you came accross cases of detained goods that have then been returned?
I'm prepared to fight this all the way if need be, looking at the forum crown court seems to be the fairest platform to get your case over and have your illegalky held property returned.

     Thread Starter

17-7-2018 9:29 am  #4

Re: Help / Advice

As per my post above, send them as much info as possible. Yes, we have had detentions and yes we have had the goods returned. Detention usually happens when there is a delayed interview eg illness or the coach is leaving. It sounds like you've come across a very fair officer who is giving you a chance to convince him the goods are legit. That's very rare these days.

We are having trouble getting SAR's back lately. It's the proper thing to do but not the end of the world if you don't get it.


17-7-2018 11:26 am  #5

Re: Help / Advice

Ive had goods detained, then returned for another interview and had goods returned after supplying more evidence, bank statements ect, detention is a good sign that goods will be returned as bf dont have enough evidence at the time of the initial stop,gives you time to gather as much evidence that goods are for your own use and prove you could afford them, but also gives bf time to gather any evidence they may need to seize goods aswell.   Provide as much evidence as you can.

Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
Better to live one day as a lion than a thousand days as a sheep'


20-7-2018 9:56 pm  #6

Re: Help / Advice

Received an update my cigarettes have been officially seized, exact reasons will follow in letter but mainly due to frequency of travel, 5 times in 12 months and an assumption that gift quantity was not credible (20 sleeves), the volume of sleeves (80).   Next steps is case is passed to BF H/o at Plymouth.  Have sent in a NOC by recorded delivery. 
Any ideas on how long it takes to arrange court date?  What court this takes place at?  Chances of winning case and receiving ciggies back. 
Reading through the forum sounds like goods will have probably been destroyed by now and If court case is won only amount paid is refunded.  
Seems disgraceful that you cant claim costs if you win and  yet hit with costs and duty if you don't.  


     Thread Starter

20-7-2018 10:59 pm  #7

Re: Help / Advice

Yes it is disgraceful but it's not Just Border Force and HMRC, most gov't depts operate in a shabby, disgraceful way.

You're pretty much correct on the other points as well.

It will probably take 12 months to come to court so be sure you write down everything you can remember since you did not know about recording, because your memory will fade.

Court hearing should be at the nearest mags to where the goods were seized.

Not even a fully fledged barrister will tell you what your chances of winning are. So long as you can justify the number of trips and quantity of goods then you have a case.


24-7-2018 5:54 pm  #8

Re: Help / Advice

Finally received a notice of seizure letter stating reason why seized.

Frequency of Travel - 5 times in 12 months 

Qty too great to be considered a gift when 20 sleeves out of the 80 - when bank balance was only 4k.

When intercepted you were alone despite travelling with family and had separated from them In the baggage hall, and cigarettes were spread among the suit cases..    Annoyed at this as a Blatant lie - my partner was 10 feet behind me when walking through the customs zone  when asked if I was travelling alone I replied no and pointed at my partner approaching behind me.

The letter ends stating I have one month from the date of this notice of seizure to give notice of your claim in writing.

The letter is dated January 2016, so I have no chance of complying with  that....obviously a typo.

The previous trips were  family holidays and city breaks where categorically no bulk purchase of ciggies were made.  

I advised border officer in interview that 20 sleeves are gifts for family the remaining 60 should last me just over a year.

Anyone had similar reasons for seizure?- any advice on next steps would be appreciated.  

     Thread Starter

24-7-2018 8:46 pm  #9

Re: Help / Advice

First off, send in a NOC and apply for restoration on same letter. Send it recorded signed for and they should reply almost by return. They then have 6 months to get the papers into court.

Lying in their statements is pretty much standard procedure and there will probably be more to come.

Apply for a SAR. Check Border Force website as there is new advice there about that. Start preparing your case in line with our previous posts. Look on ''Help-FOI's'' and find shaky's FOI  about BF not recording negative stops. We have used this successfully in court to argue that they cannot use previous trips as evidence of purchases.

If they are stupid enough to take this Jan 2016 as the date and say you are out of time to appeal, well likewise they are out of time to get it into court.

And yes, the reasons for seizure are typical.


24-7-2018 8:51 pm  #10

Re: Help / Advice

Duplicate post deleted 



Last edited by eezyrider (24-7-2018 11:11 pm)

     Thread Starter

03-10-2018 8:42 pm  #11

Re: Help / Advice

Just received another letter from border force
Listing the main points of my interview
amount purchased
where purchased
What I smoke daily
Frequency of travel
and reasons for seizure are 5 hols in 12 months
My declared gift quantity to my immediate family too large
Receipts for only for 80% of purchases
Still not sure where the conclusion for commercial use comes from!
For each point I have been gathering evidence :-
showing proof previous trips was with hand luggage.
Affidavit from family members 
statement from accountant and bank statements ref affordability.
Also have a few aces to play showing the incompetency of BF in correspondence and the way they harassed, bullied and mad me feel like a criminal when re entering the uk.
I could do without having to spend all this time on this but regardless of costs its about the principle. 
Why should I allow BF to bully me and steal my property.
I'm actually looking forward to my day in court.
The letter ends stating that the purpose of this form is to avoid costs if you do not intend to continue with your claim to a full hearing in court.  
border force will apply for costs not likely to be less the 2.5k.

Few questions ref court. 
I'm hoping to question the BF officers who interviewed me, will they also be summoned or do I request their attendance?

Will the magistrates be familiar with this kind of case and do they side with government on most occasions?

Are there any users on hear who have appealed and progressed to crown court, how does this differ from magistrates court?

any feedback will be appreciated.


     Thread Starter

04-10-2018 7:01 am  #12

Re: Help / Advice

Excellent work Wolfy!

Acct's cert goes a long way to proving disposable income and affordability. Your other evidence will support your argument.
As regards previous trips I would add in 'Shaky's FOI' about unrecorded negative stops. It has previously been used to convince judges that BF cannot possibly make assumptions that you were carrying goods on previous trips.

Check your calcs several times over and ensure that they are credible and correct. I cannot emphasise how important calcs are.

You have the advantage of being able to prove your facts where BF can only put forward assumptions.

A word of caution though. The hole in your argument is the part about the shabby treatment from BF. The court does not want to hear this and it will carry no weight. It is in effect, a rant due to your sense of outrage. Understandable, but a flaw in your presentation.

As regards receipts all your goods should have had a fiscal stamp showing tax paid in the EU. That should be proof enough. As an aside we usually photograph the receipts in case BF confiscate them.

Just be careful on the gifts issue. You cannot gift goods to persons for favours received. The worst thing people say is '' I gave them cigs because they have been good to me'........fatal error!

As regards the mags, no they are not all familiar with these cases and you may well find yourself being put down by an over zealous court clerk who wants to take charge of the case. Try and stand your ground respectfully by addressing the mags. You will probably notice that BF barrister and court clerk are quite pally. It is vastly different in Crown court where a professional judge will run the case and should be well versed with the law. It is fair to say that most of our cases are won at Crown.

The officer should be called for cross examination. Do not make statements, you are only allowed to ask questions.


04-10-2018 7:07 am  #13

Re: Help / Advice

Forgot to add, you can ignore the letter from BF. Condems have been instigated, no further response needed. The least contact the better as occasionally the file slips off the end of the desk and gets forgotten until they are out of time.


09-10-2018 11:29 am  #14

Re: Help / Advice

I have been on appeal in crown and it was worth it, it was different than mags Where as eezyrider said clerk and HO solicitor were in charge. In crown judge was in charge of the hearing and it Did end up in my favour.

Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.

21-3-2019 12:32 pm  #15

Re: Help / Advice

Congratulatulations Wolfy!!!

He won his case today at mags, 17000 cigs, and no s144 requested.
I'm hoping he'll be along shortly to give us some feedback.


21-3-2019 4:11 pm  #16

Re: Help / Advice

Congrats Wolfy 

I never get bored of hearing someone doing well !

I am Homer of Borg, resistance is.............hmmmm doughnuts http://i45.tinypic.com/24uxqug.png

21-3-2019 7:51 pm  #17

Re: Help / Advice

Congrats Wolfy ! (and a tip of the Blocked Dwarf Horned Helmet to Eeze)

"I, uh, let her out the trunk...heard what, err, She snarled at THEM...."


26-3-2019 3:17 pm  #18

Re: Help / Advice

A summary of what I know of this case.

Wolfy was travelling back with his family when he was stopped at the airport with 17000 cigarettes. He was interviewed and his cigs were detained pending the supply of financial evidence within 30 days. As is often the case the officer was not contactable and the 30 days passed, He then received a seizure notice.

The reasons quoted were:-
        1, Frequency of travel. 6 trips in 12 months.
        2, Alone in customs control. Split from family.
        3. Quantity too great to be considered a gift.
        4. Only supplied receipts for 66 cartons.
        5. Didn't provide requested bank stats or invoices.

I prepared a list of questions for cross examination of the officer to argue these points.

(In brief)    How is it relevant that I made 6 trips in 1 year abroad. Wolfy used Shaky's FOI about negative stops and asked the officer if she had any proof that he had bought large quantities of goods on previous trips.

Wolfy spotted in the notebook that the times were recorded of the interception and baggage search. There was 3 minutes difference meaning that the family could not have been separated as the officer recorded that she searched all of the luggage, 5 bags.

We asked what was the formula for working out what was an acceptable gift quantity. There is none of course.

We asked why it was a reason for seizure that not all receipts were shown. Wolfy asked the officer if he had claimed ownership of the goods and were they all marked with fiscal stamps, proof enough that they were all tax paid in the EU.

Wolfy provided bank statements, an invoice and paper trail relating to payment for a job he had done which paid for his cigs.

Although it was not used as a reason in this case surprisingly, we asked questions about MIL's from the Excise Goods regs and also quoted the Hoverspeed ruling re MIL's

Wolfy then went into the witness box where he was asked to outline his case. We had not planned for this as I had not come across it before (all courts have their own methods!). As it so happens wolfy had a friend of a friend, ex solicitor, look the case over and he prepared a 'skeleton argument' which wolfy used in answer to the mags request. He was then cross examined, I don't have those details.

The barrister then surprised by saying to wolfy ''if you have a closing speech and don't use it, I won't use mine.''

So as far as I know the case ended there, no s144 was granted but I don't know what happened about costs. 

Maybe wolfy will drop in and fill in the blank spaces



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