Major health alert after 7,000 children's face painting sets containing poisonous lead sold to British shopsFace painting sets from factory in China could cause brain damageOnly 324 of the party sets have so far been recoveredCompany boss Joel Cope, 39, from Salford, is ordered to pay 15,000 at Manchester Magistrates Court
17:09 GMT, 14 December 2012
Parents are being warned not to buy face painting sets for their children without checking them after thousands were found to contain lead.
More than 7,000 Tartan Collection paint pot sets have been imported from a factory in China by Chelford Ltd in Salford, Greater Manchester, and sold on to outlets throughout the UK.
The sets could cause brain damage in very young children – and only 324 out of the 7,200 sets have been recovered.
Chelford Ltd has been ordered to pay more than 14,000 at Manchester Magistrates' Court for breaching product safety laws.
Danger: The Tartan Collection sets which contain lead (left) and the UK boss who distributed them, Joel Cope
Boss Joel Cope, 39, was also hauled into court and fined 1,200 for putting the public's health at risk.
A Trading Standards investigation
found the sets, which were discovered on sale at shops in Salford and
Rochdale, included lead which can be absorbed through the skin.
It is not known how many painting sets have been bought or used.
Salford City Council is now warning parents to stay away from the face paint sets when buying Christmas presents.
Importer: Chelford Ltd in Salford, Greater Manchester, where the poisoned face painting sets were brought in
Salford mayor Ian Stewart said: 'It's very worrying, especially at this time of year, that these dangerous items have found their way on to the high street.
'It's really important that the public are extremely vigilant. These sets can be very dangerous, particularly to small children.'
Mr Cope admitted six breaches of product safety regulations in his role as managing director of Chelford Ltd, based at Agecroft Trading Estate in Langley Road, Salford, as well as a further six identical offences on behalf of the company.
Cope, from Lancaster Drive, Prestwich, was in charge of the firm – which specialises in keyrings and stationery – when it sold the 7,200 Tartan Collection face paint and stencil sets, containing lead, to shops around the country.
Some were found on sale at Pound Paradise store in Gerald Street, Salford, and others in Budget Greeting Cards Ltd in Milnrow, Rochdale.
DANGERS OF LEAD POISONING
Lead can be highly toxic – especially harmful to children – if it enters the body in large enough amounts
Exposure to it can damage the heart, bones, intestines and kidneys. It can cause crippling pain, confusion, headaches, and even lead to coma and death. It has also been linked with infertility and nervous damage.Traditionally used as a pigment, the sale of lead-based paint was banned in the UK in 1992.It followed mounting evidence the substance was a serious risk to health.
Salford trading standards officers bought a test sample from Pound Paradise and discovered they were toxic.
The court heard that Salford trading standards officers were first contacted about Chelford Ltd last year by health officials in Ireland who had discovered the firm's paints on sale there contained lead.
The officials told Cope that the paints were potentially toxic, but he did not immediately recall the items in the UK, the court heard.
Laura Raine, prosecuting for Salford council, said: 'He used the excuse that he thought the laws were different in Ireland.'
Trading standards later issued a notice ordering Chelford to recall the paints.
Toby Sasse, representing Chelford Ltd and Cope, said his clients had co-operated with the investigation and admitted guilt.
Mr Sasse said Cope had been given misleading advice by consultants who suggested he was complying with the correct regulations.
He said Cope was carrying out further testing of the paints when trading standards became involved.