Seized fake designer clothes kit out Africans

A MASSIVE haul of fake designer clothing seized in raids on bootleggers across Edinburgh is set for a new lease of life – in a war-torn African nation.

More than 1500 counterfeit items, including bogus designer labels and fake Scotland rugby tops, were seized by trading standards officers over the past 16 months.

Last night, the haul was handed over to a charity to be re-branded and shipped out as humanitarian aid. Most are likely to end up in the troubled west African nation of Liberia, which suffered two bloody civil wars in recent years.

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The council also passed on around 1000 bootleg CDs and DVDs, as well as around 1600 illegally-altered games consoles, to be ground down and turned into a plastic coating for pencils.

Many of the CDs and DVDs were taken from stalls at the now-defunct Ingliston Market.

Bedfordshire-based charity His Church is collecting similar hauls from five Scottish local authorities.

All clothing will have the fake labels and logos removed, before being re-branded with the charity's own "His" label and dispatched to Africa.

The altered PlayStation consoles, which have been fitted with special chips so that they can be used to play any kind of game, and the bootleg CDs and DVDs, will be put through an industrial granulating machine.

The Sunday market at Ingliston was regularly targeted by the police and trading standards officers. In one operation, more than 5 million worth of counterfeit DVDs were seized as traders fled the scene.

The market was axed in 2005 by operators Spook Erections, but many of the goods seized were kept in storage by the council for use in legal proceedings. All of the goods were set to be destroyed before the charity's intervention.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city's environment leader, said today: "Counterfeiting is most definitely not a victimless crime.

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"The money it generates often funds other areas of criminal activity that blight our communities and cause widespread misery.

"Thanks to the vigilance and thoroughness of our Community Safety division, and in partnership with our fellow enforcement agencies, thousands of illegally produced items are seized in Edinburgh each year.

"I am delighted to see a positive outcome from these raids, with the clothes being used by some of the world's most deprived communities.

"I also applaud the charity for their endorsement of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message in putting these counterfeit clothes, CDs and other items to good use and ensuring that they do not end up as landfill."

His Church have been fully accredited by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) to undertake the de-branding and re-badging process.

As part of the agreement, they will provide full disposal schedules to show the counterfeit goods do not return to the supply chain.

Richard Humphrey, the charity co-ordinator for His Church, said: "We are delighted to partner with Edinburgh Community Safety in turning seized counterfeit products into real aid for those suffering through poverty."