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Fabric drug deaths: Dossier alleges substance abuse inside Farringdon superclub is rife and security lax

PUBLISHED: 17:17 26 August 2016 | UPDATED: 14:28 31 August 2016

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Embattled Farringdon nightclub Fabric is “a safe haven for the supply and consumption of illegal drugs” with lax security, licensing chiefs will be told on September 6.

A night out at Fabric in Farringdon (Picture: Fabio Venni/Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0)A night out at Fabric in Farringdon (Picture: Fabio Venni/Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0)

They are set to decide the future of the superclub where two 18-year-old boys have died this summer after taking ecstasy.

Reports that will be considered by Islington Council’s licensing committee allege the boys had bought the class A drug from strangers inside the club.

But in the same reports pack are 920 pages of letters in passionate support of Fabric, whose authors beg the council not to respond to the tragedy by shutting the club down.

Industry greats such as Pete Tong and the Chemical Brothers have thrown their support behind the club, adding their names to a 91,000-strong petition.

Friends of one of the deceased boys state 80 per cent of clubgoers on a particular night “appeared to be under the influence of drugs”. Friends of the other claim bouncers told them on one occasion they would be “here all night” if they thoroughly searched everyone’s pockets.t

The papers, whose authors include top Islington police officers, also reveal how a woman was taken to hospital suffering a suspected overdose the same night as the first boy’s death, leaving paramedics struggling to look after two seriously ill clubgoers at the same time.

An undercover police officer on another night even heard an allegation that Fabric’s bouncers sometimes pass confiscated substances on to their friends inside the club.

Two boys, referred to in documents as RB and JC, died after suspected overdoses on June 25 and August 6, sparking the immediate closure of the Charterhouse Street venue. They were the fifth and sixth drug deaths there since 2011.

The first boy is alleged to have smuggled his own drugs past bouncers before taking them in the toilets with water from the bar. RB believed the three pills he had taken were not working, it is claimed, and told friends he had bought a further pill from a stranger. But after swallowing it, he showed “very disturbing deterioration”, sweating and shaking, and medics were rushed to the scene.

The report reveals Fabric failed to call police after the woman was taken to hospital the same night – despite a condition in the club’s licence that says cops must be informed of any hospital admissions.

Fabric in 2016. Picture: Danny SeatonFabric in 2016. Picture: Danny Seaton

Meanwhile JC was part of a group of friends who had smuggled drugs inside the club with ease on at least two previous

occasions, a witness statement alleges.

A report by Supt Stuart Ryan states a plain clothed police officer was offered pills inside the club one week after the first boy died. “If the premises is permitted to remain open and operating in its current form, there is a strong possibility that further drug related deaths will occur,” Supt Ryan writes. “This situation cannot be allowed to continue.”

He has recommended the club’s licence be suspended in the longer-term to give officers time to more thoroughly investigate the supply of drugs in the venue. Ultimately police want sniffer dogs and stricter entry requirements.

Undercover officers visited the club at 1am on July 3, the week after the first death. They said the further back in the queue clubbers were the higher the risk of them taking drugs or being targeted by dealers and noted that no one was asked to empty their pockets on entry.

In numbers

2,500

Capacity of club

Six

Number of drug-related deaths at Fabric since 2011

80

% of clubgoers who showed signs of drug use on the second victim’s previous visit, according to his friends’ police evidence

Scotland Yard officer Karl Turton concluded: “The link with this venue and high risk drug use is undeniable, and tragically, evident from recent events.”

The banning of dealers is “wholly inadequate” and involves a binder containing 100 faces that door staff cannot be expected to memorise, Scotland Yard’s chief licensing officer Ian Graham adds.

A line from one clubgoer in another witness statement presented to the committee ahead of the September 6 meeting reads: “The ease of purchasing MDMA at Fabric is one of its main attractions.”

Meanwhile hundreds of music industry figures have written statements in support of the club, urging council chiefs not to shut it.

The director of arts venue Village Underground, whose name is blacked out, writes: “I am also writing in support of Fabric as a globally renowned venue whose team is leading our industry in the UK.

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly HancockFabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

“They continuously push for new best practice – for example, the Holla Back campaign against harassment in bars and clubs, or their work to counter organised petty crime gangs stealing phones in venues.

“These kinds of initiatives piloted by Fabric filter down to the rest of the industry and make a real difference.

“On the matter of drug and alcohol abuse and deaths in today’s youth culture, Fabric also operate a tight ship run by an experienced and dedicated team. It is a sad fact that these tragedies occur, but I urge you to not respond by removing Fabric’s license or by closing their business slowly through unviable licensing conditions.”

Approaching 100,000 people have signed a “save Fabric” petition in the last week, among them industry greats such as Pete Tong and the Chemical Brothers.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Islington’s sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East), who is also a London Assembly member, also threw their weight behind the campaign.

"It is a sad fact that these tragedies occur, but I urge you to not respond by removing Fabric’s license or by closing their business slowly through unviable licensing conditions"

Village Underground director

Mr Khan said he hoped licensing chiefs could “find a solution that protects clubbers’ safety and the future of the club”.

Other anonymous supporters and workers have made statements such as: “Fabric takes a lot of precaution when it comes to customer safety. The club has a medical team always present.”

Another reads: “The blame for the recent tragedies can surely not be placed with Fabric, which is a brilliantly managed club and a safe environment in which Londoners can party safe.”

And: “We are so strict on the doors. The security really pat down people for drugs [...] it’s EXTREMELY INTENSE compared with other venues. [...] We don’t tolerate criminal activities or illegal substances. We have a great medic team.”

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