A high street fashion store has been fined for selling clothing that breaches UK safety legislation.

Primark was caught selling hooded tops with dangerous neck cords at two of its outlets in Sunderland and Gateshead.

Trading Standards officers from Gateshead and Sunderland discovered a range of garments on sale that contained a cord through the hood - a feature which has been banned for children’s clothing in Britain since 1976. The regulations were introduced in the 1970s following a number of serious accidents involving youngsters whose hood cord had caught in play equipment.

Several children died from strangulation and others were seriously injured before free-running cords in hoods were banned.

Primark’s solicitor argued that the clothes, which were on sale for between #4 and #6, were not intended for children and were therefore exempt from the regulations.

Trading Standards officers were able to show that because of the size of the garments and their style, it was likely that children could and would wear them.

The retailer was convicted of 16 counts of breaching health and safety legislation and fined #8,000 - equal to #500 for each offence.

The company was also ordered to pay more than #7,500 costs by a district judge at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The district judge also ordered the destruction of the several hundred items that were seized by Trading Standards officers locally while other similar garments have been withdrawn from sale nationally.

Paul Dowling, director of development and enterprise at Gateshead Council, said: "This is a good example of Trading Standards working together across the region to tackle a serious safety problem.

"These regulations have been in force since the 1970s and it is disappointing that a major national clothing retailer failed to take basic steps to ensure that the product was safe.

"Trading Standards Officers deal with a wide range of safety legislation and these regulations have been successful in reducing the number of strangulation injuries suffered by young children."