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24 Sep 2019

Mamas & Papas fined for selling thousands of dangerous car seats

Almost 150,000 unsafe child car seats were sold by Argos across a 39-month period

Mamas & Papas Mercury-branded child car seats have been ruled unsafe, following a three-year investigation by Milton Keynes Council's Trading Standards department. This investigation found that the seats could crack and allow too much head movement, potentially leading to injury.

The investigation resulted in a £20,000 fine for Mamas & Papas, as well as a 12-week jail sentence for Christine Mitchell, director of car seat distributors Jeenay (UK) Ltd. Both parties pleaded guilty to supplying unsafe car seats.

His Honour Judge Rochford said during the hearing: 'No parent will compromise the safety of their child. They are entitled to expect products they buy to accord with safety regulations.

'In relation to Mamas & Papas Ltd, a well-known and reputable brand, they can expect the standards to be as high as they can be. Both defendants have let down parents and put children at risk.'

Mamas & Papas was also ordered to pay £50,000 in costs to Milton Keynes Council and £275,000-worth of profits will be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The £236,000 profit Christine Mitchell earned from selling dangerous car seats will also be confiscated.

We put thechild car seats we review through tougher tests than the legal requirements, so you can choose one that will keep your child safe.

Unsafe child car seats put children at risk

During the three-year investigation, Milton Keynes Council used a child-size dummy in a crash simulation to find faults with the Mercury-branded child car seats, which have since been recalled.

The child car seats were designed for children aged from birth up to four years old, and almost 150,000 were sold by Argos between January 2013 and April 2016.

Although the car seats were sold via Argos, Argos is not accused of any wrongdoing in this matter.

We would advise parents to avoid these child car seats if they see any being sold secondhand. If you own one, you must stop using it immediately and return it to Argos for a full refund, or call 0345 640 2020.

Sue Crawley, head of Trading Standards said: 'We spent a lot of time investigating this case and hope the prosecution sends a message to other businesses large and small that Trading Standards takes a hard line on the supply of unsafe and potentially dangerous goods.'

Our own investigation into the sale of dangerous child car seats found several on websites including Amazon and eBay. Costing as little as £8, these seats are illegal in the UK. Our investigation led to these potentially deadly child car seats being removed from sale.

How Which? tests child car seats

For a child car seat to be sold in the UK, it must pass the regulatory tests required by ECE Regulation 44/03 or ECE 44/04 (this is marked on a label on the seat) or it will be approved under the newer UN R129 (i-Size is a part of R129).

The frontal and side-impact crash tests carried out for our reviews are designed to push car seats further to make sure they are as safe as possible for your child.

These tougher tests have already uncovered potentially dangerous seats. The BabyStyle Oyster Carapace Baby car seat detached from the Duofix i-Size base and flew forward during our tests.

This potentially disastrous flaw led to BabyStyle recalling the Duofix i-Size base after we named the seat a Don't Buy when used with the base.

Our tests have found 19 other Don't Buy car seats.

Learn more about the tough array of tests each child car seat goes through in our lab.