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Undercover cops to be identified in Fabric appeal

By | Published on Wednesday 2 November 2016


Legal representatives for Fabric have urged Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court to ensure its appeal against Islington Council’s decision to revoke its licence takes place this month, because with the London club currently closed pending that appeal, any delay would be “disastrous”. Lawyer Philip Kolvin said that if the appeal proceedings didn’t get underway soon “there won’t be a club to represent”.

As previously reported, Islington Council revoked Fabric’s licence in September following two drug-related deaths at or near the venue. The decision has been widely criticised, not least because Fabric has a particularly good reputation for its anti-drug policies, and has been commended in the past by both a judge and the police. The club announced its intent to appeal the licensing decision almost immediately and began a fund-raising campaign to cover the legal costs of pursuing such a thing.

A preliminary hearing took place at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court last week and, according to the Islington Tribune, various issues were discussed, including what exactly the judge considering the case should focus on, what the timelines of the appeal should be, and whether the identity of two undercover police officers whose report played a big role in the Council’s decision making should be revealed.

On the latter point, the judge decided that the two officers should be named in court, and should give testimony about their undercover operation, albeit via video link. The Metropolitan Police argued that revealing the identity of the offices might compromise their safety, but the judge said that given the “significant public interest” in the outcome of Fabric’s appeal it would be wrong to keep the names of two crucial witnesses secret.

Kolvin then said that what the judge should be considering in this case is whether or not Fabric would be a safe venue if it re-opened. He said he didn’t plan to go into any great detail about the club’s history, noting that court ruling just last year when a judge described the venue’s drugs policies as “a beacon of best practice”. The legal man said that he would instead outline how Fabric intends to operate if and when it re-opens, adding that there were plans to introduce ID scanners and open new entrances to the venue.

The legal rep for Islington Council, Ranjit Bhose, said he wanted to spend more time considering past events, noting the 53 conditions on Fabric’s previous licence, and arguing that “the problem was non-compliance … and management not taking them sufficiently seriously”.

The judge has set 28 Nov to 1 Dec as the dates for the Fabric appeal hearing.