Trader jailed over teeth whitening product

25 December 2013

Barrington Armstrong-Thorpe of Clacton, who is 64 years of age, was sentenced to 16 months in prison following a full trial following which he was found guilty by the jury.

The case was brought by Essex Trading Standards on the basis that Mr Armstrong-Thorpe had misled consumers, and he was prosecuted for a number of breaches of the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2008. 

The court was told that Mr Armstrong-Thorpe sold teeth whitening products from 2005 both via a limited company – Smile Brighter Marketing Limited – and at a slightly later stage over a number of websites on the internet.  The prosecution stated that he started selling the product when he returned from the US and in 2007 he was warned by Bath Trading Standards that the whitener he was selling was illegal.  However, he continued to sell his product and in 2009 was contacted by Essex Trading Standards.  They opened an investigation into his business, and although he received a caution from Essex Trading Standards they told the Court that he continued to trade. 

Under the regulations the maximum amount of hydrogen peroxide allowed in teeth whitening products is 0.1% of the overall product.  However, in the product sold on-line by Mr Armstrong-Thorpe the level was found to be 103 times the limit. 

In addition to the sentence of imprisonment the court made a forfeiture order to seize and destroy the remaining stock of teeth whitening products.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council Trading Standards said that the products sold had been "dangerous".  He added "this conviction should act as a warning to other traders that may be trying to make money by selling these illegal goods.  However, it should be a reminder to our residents to only purchase goods like this from a reputable source."

The regulations set out specifics of what items cosmetic products may contain and a list of restrictions on certain products including preservatives. It also has a schedule of substances that are banned from being present in cosmetic products. 

The above is not legal advice, it is intended to provide information of general interest in current legal issues.