The owner of a restaurant, popular with celebrity TV stars and Premier League footballers, has been stripped of its licence by Redbridge Council for not complying with licensing conditions.
In addition, the restaurant continually ignored COVID-19 guidelines and put its patrons' and staff's safety at risk.
Melin Restaurant in Woodford Bridge, East London, under the management and control of Ali Melin, has had its licence revoked by the council's Licensing Committee.
The committee were presented with a considerable body of written material and video images from police body cameras and social media. The venue consists of a restaurant, live music with a dance floor and is laid out over three floors.
During the hearing, the full extent of Mr Melin's refusal to adhere to COVID-19 regulations and guidance was laid bare to the Licensing Committee.
The Licensing Committee heard that in one of the more recent instances, police attended the premises on Tuesday, 3 November, following a complaint from residents that a large event was taking place. They arrived to findthe doors locked and the windows blacked out.
Officers could see through a gap that people inside were not wearing face coverings while standing at the bar, and there were two DJs. The police were denied entry into the building, and the access and fire doors remained locked for 10 minutes. This was found to amount to an obstruction of officers exercising their duties under the Licensing Act 2003 and Coronavirus Regulations, thereby putting the safety of patron/staff at risk. Mr Melin allegedly told officers, "It's the last night tonight anyway, so that's it; we are shut."
Later, Mr Melin posted a clip on Instagram showing 70-100 people inside with approximately 50 people dancing and a DJ playing loud music. Officers identified the voice of Mr. Melin on the clip shouting, "f@*k the lockdown."
During the periods considered by the Sub-Committee, COVID-19 restrictions limited all hospitality businesses to table service restaurants, with patrons and staff required to wear face coverings unless seated. Operating as a bar, dancing, and loud DJ music were (and currently remain) prohibited to protect the public.
The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said:
"This should send out a strong message to those who think they can flout licensing conditions and COVID guidelines. We have many licensed premises in the borough, the large majority of which have all bent over backward by following the pandemic guidelines.
"And then we have Mr Melin, who has consistently shown a flagrant and arrogant disregard for his patron's safety and the wider community's health and safety. We have one of the highest infection rates in the country, so it beggars belief that you have someone willing to jeopardise people's health and safety during a time of a national pandemic purely for financial gain.
"When you consider the sheer number of incidents that took place in a relatively short period, it's no wonder the committee reached the decision they did, I'm afraid."
Licensing Committee's main findings included: