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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Strip club owner awarded damages in bribery claim against Tower Hamlets Council.

An East London council will pay a strip club owner damages after he claimed their licence was refused because a councillor sitting on the committee had allegedly asked for a 'substantial' bribe which the owner did not pay.

Tower Hamlets Council launched two investigations into the allegation made by Santosh Nair, former owner of Club Oops in Whitechapel, however the authority said it had not been able to find evidence to support the claim.

The Met Police also carried out a criminal investigation but said there was a lack of evidence. But according to a High Court judgement seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Mr Nair took legal action because he claims he was asked by a councillor sitting on the licensing sub-committee at the time to pay a bribe in return for the licence being granted.

The High Court judgement stated Mr Nair had claimed: “The bribe was not paid and the licence was refused. The challenge was that on the basis of the councillor’s actions, there was actual or apparent bias of the committee vitiating the decision.”

The judgement does not name the councillor alleged to have asked for the bribe, and there have been some changes to who sits on the committee since the alleged incident so it’s unclear who was accused.

Club Oops had held an SEV (Sexual Entertainment Venue) licence up until 31 May, 2022 and was applying for a new one. Following a meeting with the licensing sub-committee on 26 September, 2022, the club’s application was rejected on the grounds that Mr Nair had failed to submit a new application on time. By October 2022, the club was shut down and Mr Nair went to the High Court to challenge the decision and demanded damages for the loss of profit. Despite the council saying there is no evidence to support the claim it has agreed to pay damages for the closure of the business. The exact amount is still being discussed.

According to the judgement, the council accepted that as it did not have ‘satisfactory evidence’ in response to Mr Nair’s claim it had decided to concede the claim in the interests of what it has called ‘good governance’. It agreed to grant the licence and pay damages and costs

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “The judgement made no findings against the council. An independent police investigation concluded that there is nothing to support the allegations, as did two separate internal investigations. The judgement outlines a settlement process for which the parties will discuss costs. As yet no agreement has been reached.”

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