Nightclub has licence removed after “appalling and blatant violation of Covid-19 regulations”

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

A Peckham nightclub has had its licence revoked following an “appalling and blatant violation of Covid-19 regulations”.

The decision could have “wider implications” for other venues, a lawyer for the Metropolitan Police told Southwark’s licensing sub-committee yesterday.

Afrikiko Bar in the Old Kent Road previously had its licence to run a nightclub revoked for more than two years in September 2017 after the murder of 19-year-old Daniel Namanga outside the venue.

Despite objections from police, Southwark council granted an application to allow it to run as a nightclub again in December 2019.

But the force asked the council to review Afrikiko’s licence again after they found “numerous” breaches of Covid-19 laws.

The committee heard that on several occasions during the pandemic police found the club was operating as a nightclub, with loud music and dancing, which is banned since the start of lockdown.

It also heard the club had been warned on several occasions to abide by the rules.

Body worn footage was played during the meeting showing various police raids between July and September where people could be seen dancing and not social distancing.

In footage from August 29, as police entered the basement, a DJ could be heard saying “sit down” and “no dancing, just look at each other”.

On September 26, police came to inspect the venue after the 10pm curfew and found between 47 and 60 people locked in the basement, where the nightclub part of Afrikiko is held.

A 10-month-old baby, the daughter of the licence-holder, was among the group.

Daniel Dornor, who runs the club, argued that it was a “family meeting” and that everyone had initially been on the ground floor but fled to the basement when they heard police knock.

He said his son had been stabbed recently and they feared it may have been the same people who attacked him.

But police refuted that it was a family meeting, arguing everyone was dressed in “party attire” and buckets with wine and other alcohol was found in the basement.

The body worn footage showed it took police at least five minutes to get in as the basement door was locked.

The committee heard that the CCTV in the basement had been cut, along with the power. Mr Dornor was also threatened with arrest for being “obstructive”.

Barrister Gary Grant, on behalf of the Met Police, told the committee that the venue’s operators “lied, deceived and obstructed police” and asked members to revoke the licence.

Mr Grant said: “This is not the case of a well-meaning, responsible operator who has made a few errors, who has been confused with ever-changing regulations and guidance, and has properly responded to warnings.

“To the contrary, this is an operator who the police have bent over backwards to try and advise to get their house in order. They have failed spectacularly.

“And it’s not simply through inadvertence or negligence, it has been deliberate.

“This is a case where the operator has lied, deceived, and obstructed police and the local authority in their execution of their duty designed to keep London safe.”

Mr Grant quoted one of the 14 officers who attended on the day of the 60-person party, who summarised it as a “hostile and dangerous environment”.

“An appalling and blatant violation of the Covid regulations, and she concluded that ‘this is the most dangerous premises I have ever visited’,” he said.

Pictured top: Afrikiko Bar in the Old Kent Road

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