British customs forced to return endangered crocodile-skin bag to passenger

£2k designer bag to be handed back to British passenger

Updated: 

Border Force told to return £2k crocodile skin handbag to British woman

A British woman whose £2,000 crocodile-skin handbag was seized by British customs has now won the right to have it back after a two-year battle.

Sabine Smouha was given the bag, handmade in Japan by design house Hikiji, by her husband Jeremy, the director of an investments company, for her 50th birthday.

The bag was seized by British customs, who have repeatedly refused to return it to her because it did not have the required endangered species import permit.

Mrs Smouha, from Hampstead, has now been told she will have the bag returned after a victory at a tribunal.

She spotted the bag online and her husband ordered it to arrive just before her birthday.

According to the Daily Mail, the bag was made from the skin of a Nile crocodile, a protected species under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

It didn't have the required documentation and customs officials seized it at the international mail hub in Coventry.

Mrs Smouha told the First-Tier Tribunal at the Royal Courts of Justice that she had been told by Hikiji that import formalities would be "taken care of".

Judge Redston ruled in Mrs Smouha favour and said she had "reasonably relied" upon Hikiji to obtain an import permit.

She said: "Mrs Smouha did not ignore CITES. She communicated with Hikiji and understood that CITES had been complied with.

"She is not in business and the bag was a birthday present. This was her first experience of CITES.

"Mrs Smouha acted honestly and in good faith throughout."

Border Force now has six weeks to respond in light of the new ruling.

Weird stuff seized by customs

Weird stuff seized by customs


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