An innocent packet of tobacco from a Skipton store sparked a major security alert - after postal workers mistook it for Semtex.

Each week Roger Somers, owner of Somer's Tobacconists in Craven Court, Skipton, posts a small amount of cherry and vanilla tobacco to a customer in Rochdale, but this week's parcel caused chaos.

Rochdale sorting office staff raised the alarm, fearing the strong-smelling package could contain explosives.

Mr Somers said the tobacco had a powerful smell like marzipan which could be mistaken for Semtex.

The sorting office was evacuated and police wearing bullet-proof vests moved the package in a box to a deserted spot near the canal.

Mr Somers' stunned customer Peter Andries, who had ordered the tobacco the day before, was contacted by the police.

Officers rushed him to the scene, so he could identify the package.

"They came to my house to ask me about the package and I explained it would be the tobacco," said Mr Andries.

Not convinced by his explanation, they took Peter in a police car through rush hour traffic with sirens blaring and lights flashing, to the canal.

Mr Andries said the police asked him whether he would be prepared to open the package.

He said: "I was absolutely positive what it was because I recognised the writing and the packaging,"

He said that as he opened the parcel and turned round to show the police he was standing there alone.

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