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Updated: Deathtrap sofas are still on sale in south Essex
TRAVELLERS from Crays Hill are still selling potentially deadly furniture from Poland.
Men from Dale Farm are selling the deathtraps across south Essex, London and Cambridgeshire.
Essex Trading Standards spent months investigating the camp following a previous Echo expose into the dodgy trade, but closed the case, saying there was no evidence of sofas on the site.
Yet undercover reporters bought the dangerous furniture from an Irish traveller in a pub car park in broad daylight. The man bragged of selling up to 12 suites a day and supplying estate agents.
Posing as landlords, our reporters bought a black PVC suite containing foam which failed strict UK furniture fire safety regulations when tested by experts, under controlled conditions.
They cut out a piece of the foam and set fire to it to see if it met safety standards.
Dale Brockbank, of West Yorkshire Joint Services test house, where the experiment was conducted, said: “This foam was horrendous and led to escalating combustion which had to be extinguished because it was unsafe to continue.
“It was so badly made, they used off cuts of foam to save on cost.”
The sub-standard PVC suites originate from Poland where labels are attached, which falsely claim they meet UK safety standards.
However, they turn into toxic fireballs on contact with a flame, leaving unsuspecting families little time to escape choking fumes.
During a separate fire test done by the Echo, a two-seater sofa caught fire within 30 seconds of being exposed to a flame and was a fireball within four minutes.
In March 2006 our previous investigation found shop Furniture Store in Southernhay, Basildon, was selling similar suites for £269 a piece.
At the same time regular Polish HGV loads of the furniture were delivered to the traveller site.
We published pictures of suites stored at the camp and being hawked at a boot sale.
Furniture Store was ordered to pay £10,000 including costs and fines at Basildon Magistrates’ Court.
However, trading standards said no furniture was ever found at Dale Farm and stopped investigating.
Yet aerial photographs taken by an Echo photographer, since the trading standards probe show what appear to be suites concealed by tarpaulin on a number of caravan pitches at Dale Farm.
Our new evidence has been passed to trading standards which says it will investigate.