ORGANISERS of car boot sales across the country could be prosecuted for allowing the sale of fake goods following a landmark court ruling.

George Banks, who runs popular weekly car boot sales at Redcar Racecourse, was fined £6,000 for allowing counterfeit goods to be sold.

The prosecution was brought by trading standards officers from Redcar and Cleveland District Council after a six-month surveillance operation found it "over-run" with fake goods.

Trading standards officer Howard Turton said last night: "This is the first time a car boot sale operator has been targeted for the sale of counterfeit goods.

"We usually work to prosecute traders who sell fake DVDs and videos from a stall.

"But in this case, there was so much counterfeit activity the organiser was taken to court.

"As fast as we were clearing one counterfeiter off the site, others were taking their place.

"What we now hope is that other authorities take this prosecution on board and enforce it at car boot sales across the country.

"It means that operators of these events should be vigilant and agree to work closely with trading standards officers to rid the fairs of counterfeit goods."

The court heard that officials acted after receiving several complaints about counterfeit CDs, DVDs and videos.

On November 2, 2003, police and council officials raided the Redcar event and seized computer equipment and discs.

Up to 1,000 counterfeit discs were removed of films not yet released in the UK.

Banks, 54, of Ouston, Chester-le-Street, was found guilty after he denied aiding and abetting 24 specimen counts of copyright and trademark offences at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

Judge Stephen Earl fined the businessman £250 for each specimen offence.

He was also ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

George Tilley, defending, said Banks had now improved measures to stop illegal activities.

The council's cabinet member for community safety, Joyce Benbow, said: "This is a warning that the operators and site owners must clean up their sites or risk the full force of the law.

"They can no longer have any doubt that, along with their profits, comes the responsibility for deterring overt, illegal activities of this nature."