Barrington Charles Armstrong Thorpe was sentenced to eight months in prison followed by an additional eight months under license under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPUTRs) for misleading consumers as to the legality of a tooth whitening product; and 10 charges for breaches of the Cosmetic Product Regulations 2008 for supplying a tooth whitening product that contained or released excessive levels of hydrogen peroxide.
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards said: ‘This conviction is great news for consumers. The products that were being sold over the internet were not only illegal, but also dangerous. This conviction should act as a warning to other traders that may be trying to make money by selling these illegal goods. You will be caught and potentially get a prison sentence.
However, it should also be a reminder to our residents to only purchase goods like this from a reputable source. Using unfamiliar website to purchase unfamiliar goods for a cheap price may put you at risk. Teeth whitening gel such as this could cause permanent damage and be extremely expensive to put right.”
Mr Thorpe has been involved in the sale of a tooth whitening product since at least 2005 through a company called Smile Brighter Marketing Limited. After the company was liquidated, Mr Thorpe continued to sell the product as a sole trader. He used several websites to sell this product including www.smile-brighter.co.uk; www.brightersmile.co.uk; and www.smilebrighternow.com.
The active ingredient in the tooth whitening product is hydrogen peroxide and the levels that are permitted are set by the Cosmetic Product Regulations 2008. These regulations state that an oral product cannot contain, nor release a quantity of hydrogen peroxide that exceeds 0.1%. The levels in the tooth-whitening product sold by Mr Thorpe via the web were at least 65 times this limit, sometimes reaching 103 times this limit.
It is understood that Mr Thorpe first became involved in selling this product on return from the USA after making an acquaintance with a supplier. In 2007 Mr Thorpe was informed by Bath Trading Standards that the tooth whitener he was selling was not compliant with the regulations.
Nevertheless, Mr Thorpe continued to trade. In 2009 he was contacted by Essex Trading Standards, and an investigation into his business was undertaken. Mr Thorpe accepted a caution in 2010, acknowledging that the tooth whitener was illegal. Still, Mr Thorpe failed to cease trading and Essex Trading Standards launched a prosecution.