A THATCHAM man who falsely claimed that the products he was selling online could cure serious and terminal illnesses has been fined for misleading consumers.
Mark Gardiner, who traded as Ceres_ Natural_ Health from his home in Tilehurst prior to moving to Adwood Road, Thatcham, pleaded guilty to all nine charges against him.
Newbury magistrates heard last week how Mr Gardiner would advertise a range of medicinal items online without the appropriate registrations or authorisations.
In some cases, he claimed that the items he was selling could be used to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The case was brought by West Berkshire Council following a joint investigation by West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards Service into the marketing of a range of herbal products being sold via Mr Gardiner’s eBay store.
Mr Gardiner’s advertisements made numerous claims.
In relation to Organic Turmeric Capsules, the advertisement stated that ‘scientific and medical studies have shown that Curcumin can effectively inhibit the uncontrolled spread of skin cancers’.
In response to questions put to him by Trading Standards, Mr Gardiner stated that he had been selling supplements online for 18 months to two years and did not sell these products anywhere else.
He told the court that he obtained supplements from other websites, filled the capsules himself and used descriptions used by those websites to sell them on eBay under the user name Ceres_Natural _Health.
He admitted that he did not carry out any checks on the products and had no tests carried out on them or their ingredients.
He also confirmed he had no background in either medicinal plants or herbalism and that he had not complied with the rules relating to the marketing of organic products.
The investigation revealed that the value of the products sold from May 2013 to September 2014 totalled £38,237.01.
In mitigation the court was told that Mr. Gardiner had suffered from significant mental health issues.
Mike Davis, defending, described Mr Gardiner as a “troubled young man”.
He added: “The things he is selling are not poisonous or harmful, they are just not going to benefit people in the way they describe on the label.
“They do not do what they say on the tin.
“I do not know whether the people buying it believed these claims or not.”
Magistrates fined Mr Gardiner £1,800, £200 for each of the nine offences.
He was also ordered to pay costs of £785.56, bringing the total amount to £2,585.56.
Sean Murphy, Trading Standards manager for West Berkshire and Wokingham, said: “Medicinal products are regulated for good reason.
“People need to be able to rely on the efficacy of the product.
“That is why they must have the relevant approval and even when they do, the claims that can be made are tightly controlled.
“It is vital that people operating in this very important area comply with the rules.
“In this case, the defendant had neither training nor
qualifications and did not comply.”