Inadequate response to sex assault in toilets leads to Soho bar’s closure

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

A cocktail and live music bar in Soho where a customer alleges he was orally raped in a toilet has been temporarily shut down by the Met.

Louche in Greek Street – an unfortunately appropriate name in the circumstances – closed on Friday last week and will remain so while a full review of its licence takes place.

It comes as a man alleges he was orally raped in Louche’s toilets. When the alleged victim informed security guards, he and the suspect were taken outside together, where the suspect then wandered off, councillors heard.

The victim said the suspect had entered his cubicle while he was trying to exit and forced the man back inside where he was repeatedly assaulted and eventually forced to perform oral sex, a council report shows.

The alleged victim made multiple attempts to escape but the ordeal only stopped when a member of the public heard his cries for help and alerted security.

An arrest has been made. The Met said Louche’s response to the incident had been “shockingly inadequate” and had put customers and the public at risk.

A lawyer representing the Met said rather than detaining the suspect, Louche’s security guards escorted him and the alleged victim outside where he then disappeared.

The lawyer said: “Nobody called the police. The manager on site didn’t call the police. The first thing she did was call the general manager to ask what to do. Clearly inadequately trained, clearly irresponsible.”

He said the suspect was eventually tracked down using CCTV from private venues and an ID scanner used by another club the suspect visited.

Councillors also heard how the general manager was off site when the incident took place. When police approached him, he appeared to have no knowledge of the venue’s licensing conditions and kept advising officers to speak to the owners, according to council documents.

Louche’s owner, Dennis Rogers, said the general manager’s behaviour was poor and may have been because he was serving his notice period at the time.

Mr Rogers, who runs Louche and a private members club in Soho with his son Elliott, said he was appalled by the way security guards handled the alleged sexual assault. He said a new operator was in place and the CCTV system had been upgraded.

He said: “It was a terrible, terrible situation that happened that night with an individual who was looking for this kind of thing to happen. Equally, we don’t excuse the behaviour of the management or do we excuse the behaviour of the security staff.”

He pleaded with councillors to allow his family-run club to stay open saying closure would threaten jobs. Mr Rogers said: “We’re not a corporate business. It’s a very, very awkward thing for us to be shut for a month. There are large overheads for operating in Soho.”

Councillors also heard how just over a week earlier a man had his tooth knocked out during a fight on the dance-floor.

The Met Police’s representative said the Rogers’ other Soho club had been served with a closure notice after allegedly failing to run as a private members bar.

The lawyer said: “The point is about trust. It’s about trust in the middle of Soho in an area with a high risk venue which serves alcohol and is essentially a nightclub and they didn’t take these steps to keep their customers safe.”

He added: “[Louche’s owners] have shown such disregard for their customers’ safety that we have serious concerns this will happen again. If we don’t suspend the licence, there will be another crime. There may well be another sexual assault that could have been prevented.”

Handing down her ruling, licensing committee chairwoman Angela Piddock said: “The committee is satisfied the premises is associated with serious crime and it is necessary and proportionate for the steps outlined to be taken.”

Louche can appeal the ruling.

Picture: The Louche Bar in Soho (Picture: Google Street View)

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