Border Reivers

The term used to describe gangs – in the long past, gangs who raided northern England from Scotland and then ran back over the border, out of jurisdiction. They’ll be voting for independence because the Union spoiled their game.

Now it applies to the UK Border Farce who indulge in petty thievery by pretending that duty applies to things it does not apply to.

They have, in this process, damaged a legitimate business who have broken no laws.

Tobacco leaf is just compost. It is not smokeable. If it is turned into snuff, no duty is payable. If it is turned into smoking baccy, duty is payable but that is not the responsibility of the supplier. No more than Tate and Lyle are responsible if you buy their sugar and ferment it into wine.

I think we should arrange to pass through customs with a load of dried palm leaves. Spend ages arguing with them without letting on that they are not tobacco. Just keep insisting that no duty is payable on leaves but never state what kind of leaves they are. Let them take it to court.

Then get the papers involved. Make the buggers look like the half-brained cretins they really are.

In the meantime, PureLeaf need to keep going. I need a tobacco shredder, they have two at reasonable prices. So I’ve ordered one.

I haven’t bought leaf there before, I have only once bought some from TL4U, but since they have been relegated to underdog status I will make a point of getting some in the future.

Whether I need it or not.


27 thoughts on “Border Reivers

    • So they’re going after the leaf-sellers. If they win one case, all the rest will have to close down at once.

      If they lose, they’ll try again.

      If only they put half as much effort into catching foreign criminals, gun-runners and drug-smugglers.

      But then, there’s no duty to impose so no profit to be had. And smokers are such an easy target.


      • Don’t believe that this case would ever be used as a test case. The whole thing as far as l can see is a mess. We’ll see what happens but don’t expect an early completion. This could be in a years time quite easily.


  1. As SH has already said, the seizure of the leaves (in Pureleaf’s case) is SECONDARY…ie they were seized as ‘evidence’ not because of any duty supposedly owing. Its the exact same bit of criminal law used to lock up real smugglers and seize their goods.


  2. ‘The power that a millionaire has over me is less than that of the smallest functionary who wields the coercive power of the state.’


  3. “I think we should arrange to pass through customs with a load of dried palm leaves. Spend ages arguing with them without letting on that they are not tobacco. Just keep insisting that no duty is payable on leaves but never state what kind of leaves they are. Let them take it to court.”

    Leg, you are so WONDERFULLY evil!



      • Good point. It would have to be leaves that aren’t already subject to some dodgy restrictions.

        I’d keep silent until the charges were read out. ‘Accused of smuggling tobacco leaf…’

        ‘Tobacco? Nobody mentioned tobacco. What’s all this about tobacco? There was no tobacco in my leaf-pile at all.’


  4. Here a copy of the PF forum thread :
    Site back up

    Postby JoePureLeaf » 09 Nov 2013 22:11
    Hey all,

    Right I can guess most of you will be disappointed with what we are now offering, but this is merely a stop gap until we have resolved the customs issue.

    Jen tells me most people would like to know what is happening, so here is the full story.

    On the 17th of last month my latest shipment (a couple thousand lbs or each leaf) was seized by the UKBA. As any of you who have dealt with these people know they are fucking hard to get hold of to find out what is going on. I was merely told that the seizure was done under the CEMA 1979 170B. This is an act which stops people avoiding her Majesties duty. Now obviously this is a gross misrepresentation of the leafs uses which is imported for the cosmetic and medical use. PureLeaf does not and has not condoned people avoiding duty, so this seizure was a bit of a surprise.
    After an agonising 10 day wait for the seizure notice to arrive I liaised with several import/exp ort lawyers and have taken their advice to the letter. I will be fighting this until the HMRC hands back my legal property. This can take some time, but it should happen. I’m hoping with the spate of recent rulings in the favour of leaf importers that they change their mind without the need to go to court, but it is more likely that common sense wouldn’t prevent them from mounting a court case, further wasting more tax money, against me.

    When I have some information I will let everyone know. Obviously I can’t get any leaf at the moment, but once I have seen the response to my first communication with the HMRC then I might be able to bring in some EU leaf ASAP.

    My apologies to everyone about this.

    Postby Smoking Hot » 10 Nov 2013 07:48
    Dear Joe, l find your post a little confusing. UK Border Force (UKBA no longer exist) and HMRC are entirely different entities. One assumes it would be UKBF and that makes a difference as HMRC are far more approachable than UKBF.

    However, S170B is not really about the goods, it’s about you … yourself. S170B is criminal not civil and as such l hope the import/export lawyers advocated you seeking criminal counsel. The recent judgements re Tribunals on whether duty was liable on leaf have no bearing on this S170B.

    CEMA 1979 170B Offence of taking preparatory steps for evasion of excise duty.

    (1)If any person is knowingly concerned in the taking of any steps with a view to the fraudulent evasion, whether by himself or another, of any duty of excise on any goods, he shall be liable—

    (a)on summary conviction, to a penalty of the prescribed sum or of three times the amount of the du ty, whichever is the greater, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both; and

    (b)on conviction on indictment, to a penalty of any amount or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or to both.

    (2)Where any person is guilty of an offence under this section, the goods in respect of which the offence was committed shall be liable to forfeiture.

    Note:- ‘summary conviction’ refers to a Magistrates Court and ‘indictment’ refers to Crown Court. You can also be assured that UKBF/HMRC are all over your forum on a regular basis … as they are ours. l wish you well.
    Post by Customer.From.Hell » 10 Nov 2013 09:02
    Oh dear, sounds to me like Customs (whatever flavour) have decided to make an example of you, Joe. They are hoping you’ll loose your house, car and liberty. Originally I thought this was ‘just’ an excise/duty thing, that they were going after the leaf but they are going the whole hog, ie they are going after YOU, Joe, PERSONALLY…and I sure hope whatever lawyers you spoke to made that clear to you cos off the top of my head I can see little defence open to you.
    Postby Fynger » 10 Nov 2013 09:30
    Good Luck Joe
    Postby Customer.From.Hell » 10 Nov 2013 10:21
    I fear Joe will need more than luck 😦

    If I were him I would be remortaging the house about now cos if you do the math then -if convicted- Joe is liable to a fine in the Millions and several years in Clink. Jen, if you read this then you need to be scared, do not let your “Lord and Master” take this one lightly. The 170 bit of CEMA is the same law they use to lock up real smugglers….and what they used aganst this bloke … y-sbc.html

    Postby Welshy » 10 Nov 2013 12:57
    Good to see the site back up. I had a feeling it might be back soon, if in part, due to me getting an email notification of a shredder restock i was watching 😉
    (But you still need to sort out that thing i pm’ed you about, it reappeared a matter of hours after you removed it, and it’s still evident).
    Anyway, keep up the fight Joe, don’t let the bastards grind you down !
    Good luck.



  5. There is a much better way to ‘defeat’ Customs, on the issue of duty on leaves, than bringing in palm leaves:

    Firstly we need to check whether Customs (whatever they call themselves this week) can legally refuse to collect duty owing. Pretty sure they can’t but it would need to be confirmed for this to work.

    Once that has been confirmed, perhaps via an FOI, then all we need do is send them the following letter via “Signed For”;

    “Dear Sir, The law requires me to inform you that I have today shredded some dried tobacco leaf and made a single cigarette from it. Please supply me with a bill for duty and details of how I can pay said duty (I assume, this being 2013, I can simply Paypal?). I await your written reply withing the statutory time frame etc etc”

    We could also put in whatever bit of law says that they can’t refuse to collect duty owing etc.

    Can you imagine what would happen if say 1000 smokers were to send just one such letter DAILY? It would need to be daily btw…daily until Customs decide that shredding small quantities of leaf for own use is ‘allowed’.

    Thats how you beat ‘crats. Paper.


    • This worked quite well against the Arbeitsamt (Bru/dole/Welfare) here.

      During two jobs I signed on for about three weeks.

      In this period I was away on a Re-enactment for a weekend.

      I can not remember how they found out, but had me in the office, and tried a bollocking, because I had not informed them I would not be available for work.

      HO ho ho!!!

      After that, went to the kitchen…. telephoned first, just in case I did not hear the phone if they rang, Would HATE to be “unavailable without you knowing!”. Five minutes shopping, telephone first. Go on the balcony for a smoke….you guessed it. The bog? The same.

      After 15 times in three hours, they got fed up and told me in German legalese, to FUCK OFF and DON’T ring back!

      So I sent a letter to their boss; “How can I let you know when I am unavailable, if they refuse to accept my phone calls?”

      Never heard from them again.


      • Oh yes German ‘Beamte’ (Civil Servants) and their sense of duty. This method works better in Germany than anywhere else on the planet…as I know from my own experience. Your average German Civil Servant is psychologically , nay physically, incapable of not stamping a form that his guidelines say should be stamped…in triplicate. I’ve driven whole ‘Amts’ (government departments) to the brink of ‘burn out syndrome’ in the past. Forget flag waving and molotovs…if you want something to change then simply fulfill the law to the letter , every single one of them, of the law. If you are obligated by law to do something then you can bet that someone is obligated to supervise/record/process your obligation.


        • This sort of general approach reminds me of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” and “Reveille For Radicals.” Both are books that helped form and define the “New Left” approach to politics in the US, but their tools can be used by anyone.

          Heh, while not quite exactly the same, one of his tactics would work well at universities today that ban smoking. Alinsky had some students come to him one day asking what they could do to change the hundred and one restrictive rules that were stopping them from having ANY fun at their university. So, he asked them what they WERE allowed to do. They replied, “Nothing! We’re lucky that we’re still allowed to chew gum!”

          So of course he advised them to hand out thousands of little chicklets of gum for everyone to chew and then drop on walkways around the main school administration building. Supposedly, within a week, the school dropped almost all behavior rules on the one condition that the students would STOP chewing gum.



          • Love the chewing gum tatic! Hadn’t heard that one before. Here is one of my own though:

            A friend introduced me to the devastating effect of TOTAL COMPLIANCE decades ago when she , stoned out of her tree as always, came up with a cunning plan to get weed legalized or at least de-criminalized in the UK by getting every hash head in every town to report to their local police station and report themselves for possession of a microscopic amount of hash and INSIST the police pressed charges. Daily.

            Of course , being a hash addict, nothing ever came of her cunning plan – hash junkies running on 3 Time Zones as they do; GMT, BST and ‘like whenever,dood, no heavy like,maAAn Time” but the ‘Sammy Lou Principle’ of Civil Obedience has served me well over the years.


            • Dwarf, thank you! And I absolutely loved Shinar’s suggestion for the paperwork details: “if I were a truly evil bastard then i’d deed poll my unpronounceable Prussian (sur)name to

              “Johannes von Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch zu Gemmelshausen”



              • Forget Deed poll. Costs to much, and has no more authority than a a Deed of statutory declaration, which you can get done by a notar or solicitor for about a tenner.

                In fact, you do not NEED a solicitor. Just a witness.


                • 25 quid the last time I had one done by a solicitor but that was a while back…doubt it has gotten cheaper…and if it isn’t signed by a solicitor then a lot of places won’t accept it. Yes legally a DIY one is just as valid but most firms/banks/government agencies want a nicely presented one in a glossy folder.


      • We would need to check the law on that possible ‘defence’ then…presumably there is a ‘cut off’ point for registration between private use and retail amounts of processing…presumably.

        Although it could even work in our favour as the paperwork/manhours involved for them to register/process thousands of registrations for piddling amounts etc.


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