£400k ‘legal high’ dealer to fight ban attempts


A trader convicted over the supply of £400,000 worth of so-called legal highs is to fight attempts to have him banned from selling the products anywhere in Northern Ireland, the High Court heard on Thursday.

Counsel for Ian Brown confirmed he will resist Belfast City Council’s bid to secure a full injunction against him.

Last month 53-year-old Brown was ordered to serve a maximum 240 hours’ community service after admitting a failure to comply with safety regulations in distributing a dangerous product, namely Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

Two colleagues, Ashley Campbell, 23, and Susan Bradshaw, 46, were also convicted of similar offences in the landmark case.

Charges were brought against them for supply carried out over an eight-month period at the Soho Bookshop in central Belfast.

NPS was said to have been distributed at the Gresham Street premises between October 2013 and July 2014 in a commercial operation raking in £50,000 a month.

The prosecution represented the first convictions over the sale of so-called legal highs in the UK.

Criminal action was taken in tandem with civil litigation to secure a ban on the traders selling NPS from any location in Northern Ireland.

An interim order, imposed by Mr Justice Deeny at the High Court last November, was granted under the General Product Safety Regulations.

Attorney General John Larkin QC and the City Council jointly sought the prohibition against Brown and Campbell, both of whose addresses were given as Soho Bookshop, and Bradshaw, of Broom Street in Belfast.

The restriction also applied to Infernal Publishing Ltd and the shop itself.

Lawyers for the council have been pressing ahead with efforts to secure a full injunction.

But in court on Thursday counsel representing Brown confirmed his position in the case.

Stephen Quinn QC said: “I’m resisting the fact that there should be a final injunction.”

The barrister added that he plans to meet with Brown, who is currently on a trip outside Northern Ireland, to “fully understand his position”.

Mr Justice Treacy replied: “If your client wants to contest the matter, whether that’s a good idea you will reflect upon.”

He then listed the case for a further review at the end of the month.