A top London Chinese restaurant has been caught illegally importing shark fins to be used as the title ingredient in a £38 a bowl of soup.

Royal China Club in the capital’s West End was investigated by Westminster City Council following a tip off from Bite-Back.

The shark fins, which had been posted directly from Hong Kong, had not passed through an approved UK Border Inspection Post and therefore contravened the 2011 Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations.

Graham Buckingham, campaign director at Bite-Back, said: “The parallels between the trade in ivory and shark fins are huge and the fact that the Royal China Club has now been caught illegally importing fins to the UK is a further evidence of the corrupt industry behind this controversial menu item.”

The outrage behind shark fin soup is the barbaric way that fishermen hack the fins from living sharks before throwing the body overboard to die. Shark finning prompted chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay to say ‘[this is] the worst act of animal cruelty I’ve ever seen.’

Since 2013 the charity has prompted a 30% fall in the number of UK restaurants serving shark fin soup as part of a campaign to make Britain the first country in the world to ban the dish.

Officers from Trading Standards have now seized and destroyed the shark fins found at Royal China Club.