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‘End of an era’ as sex cinema loses council battle

Oscars cinema on Northdown Street Oscars cinema on Northdown Street

Monday, June 9, 2014
9:30 AM

A notorious sex cinema has lost its battle with Islington Council to get back its licence and now faces imminent closure.

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Officers found “obscene and disorderly behaviour” inside Northdown Street’s Oscars cinema and revoked the licence in November. An officer found “men kissing and fondling each other” and was sold an x-rated DVD called Meet the Barebackers II.

On Wednesday, a Highbury Magistrates’ Court district judge rejected an appeal by the owners, after finding the licensee Mr Papworth had a “complete failure of understanding” of the rules.

Cllr Paul Convery, who has spoken out for months against the “sleazy” cinema in his ward, said: “People might say this is the council moralising, but it really isn’t.

“What people get up to in private is up to them, but this is not in private – it’s a public place in a high street and if they breach lawful conditions, consequences follow.

“We’re not being prudish; we’re reflecting public opinion.”

Resident and film historian David McGillivray, 65, called the decision to revoke Oscars licence “the end of an era”. Speaking at last year’s meeting, he said: “I believe it has always served a small minority of men who are mainly respectable and well-behaved.

Crackdown

“London was once full of these establishments but now there are very few left. I hope people are not making moral judgments about this venue, which adds to the variety and diversity of the area”.

Nearby Abcat cinema, also near Caledonian Road, is set to have a similar appeal heard later this month.

Abcat opened in 1969, when it began showing adult films in a Victorian basement – and its closure follows on from a string of crackdowns on the sex industry.

The council was awarded full costs of £7,775 from Oscars.

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