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Gym boss jailed for selling toxic fat-stripping pills in Scottish first

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A gym owner from Falkirk is the first in Scotland to be convicted for supplying a highly toxic industrial chemical used as a weight loss drug.

DNP, or dinitrophenol, is a highly toxic chemical which, if ingested, can prove fatal – it has killed at least 33 people in the UK.

Jamie George, from Denny, was jailed for 37 months at Stirling Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

The conviction follows an investigation led by Food Standards Scotland along with Police Scotland and Falkirk Council.

George, owner of Muscle Hut, pled guilty to a charge of culpably and recklessly suppling the public with 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) for human consumption knowing the substance was unsafe and potentially lethal if ingested.

It is the first conviction of its kind involving DNP in Scotland and is also the first major criminal investigation for Food Standards Scotland.

Officers acting on intelligence in June 2018 found a “production unit” in the garden shed of Jamie George’s Falkirk home where they say he was processing, marketing and selling the pills.

During the raid officers uncovered a significant quantity of the industrial chemical, sourced from China, thousands of empty pill capsules and DNP labels.

It is estimated George was producing 10,000 capsules a month, selling them locally and internationally to countries including the USA, Australia and Asia.

DNP is a highly toxic industrial chemical used as a pesticide and is not for human consumption. It is marketed to the bodybuilding community as a rapid weight loss.

The substance can be explosive and must be handled carefully. After a Home Office review, DNP will be reclassified as a poison in October this year.

Officers traced witnesses who had been supplied by George reported and some reported suffering ill effects from the pills.

Food Standards Scotland’s head of food crime and incidents, Ron McNaughton: “Even in minor doses, DNP is extremely dangerous and should not be ingested.

“It can cause nausea, vomiting, severe sweating, rapid heart rate and in more serious cases, cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure. It has caused 33 deaths in the UK since 2007, that is 33 deaths too many. We are aware of at least two people who were hospitalised after being supplied DNP by Jamie George.

“He was warned by friends, work colleagues that it could be lethal but despite that, he continued to supply it.

“In May 2018, agencies intercepted four kilogrammes of DNP sourced from China at Edinburgh Airport but we believe his operation had been running for at least a year before that.”

Police Scotland’s DCI David MacGregor said: “Jamie George was totally reckless to sell a product that he knew had risks to people. He understood the risks himself and he continued to do it.

“Our investigation found this was a massive operation. he was producing and selling approximately 10,000 of these capsules a month.

“It’s hard to gauge how much DNP has been used in Scotland because there is very little information coming through about it so we would use this as an opportunity to ask anyone if they have any information about DNP, to feed that into Police Scotland and our partners.”

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