A newsagent was fined almost £3,000 after a sniffer dog uncovered a stash of illegal cigarettes at his shop.

Traian Zgripcea, 44, was ordered to pay £2,796 after trading standards teams from Harrow and Brent found almost 500 packs of incorrectly labelled cigarettes at his store in Rayners Lane.

Harrow and Brent Councils had been given a tip-off that Cargo Imperial Food Ltd – which traded as Diana – was selling knock-off cigarettes.

They discovered the haul during an operation using a trained sniffer dog and, under interview, Zgripcea admitted he had bought them from a stranger who visited the shop.

Cllr Varsha Parmar, responsible for the environment at Harrow Council, said: “This local shopkeeper took a punt on some dodgy fags hoping to make a quick buck.

“Just imagine his surprise when Pippa the specially trained sniffer dog started taking an interest in what he had out back.

“Pippa’s nose doesn’t lie. Thanks to her work and that of her human colleagues, the illegal stock has been forfeited and Zgripcea must now face the consequences of his poor business decision.”

According to the council, the seized cigarettes did not contain one of the legally required health warnings and were packed in the old-style coloured and branded packaging, which is no longer permitted.

It reminded people that they can contact trading standards on 03454 040506 if they suspect someone is selling illegal goods.