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Fabric: Farringdon superclub ordered to close by Islington Council

PUBLISHED: 02:51 07 September 2016 | UPDATED: 02:51 07 September 2016

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Farringdon superclub Fabric is set to close after Islington Council revoked its licence tonight.

Mournful Fabric staff and supporters outside Islington Town Hall after the licensing sub committee revoked the club's licence. Picture: James MorrisMournful Fabric staff and supporters outside Islington Town Hall after the licensing sub committee revoked the club's licence. Picture: James Morris

A number of the club’s staff and supporters burst into tears after the licensing sub committee’s decision in the town hall, which saw Fabric’s operations come under six-and-a-half hours of intense scrutiny.

Co-founder Cameron Leslie told the Gazette afterwards that an appeal is unlikely. He was too distraught to speak further. A statement from Fabric is expected in the morning.

Tonight’s licence review was called after two 18-year-olds - named today as Ryan Browne and Jack Crossley - died after overdosing on MDMA taken in the club. Ryan, of St Albans, died on June 26. Jack, of Worcester Park, Surrey, died on August 6.

Explaining the decision, Cllr Flora Williamson, chairman of the committee, said: “Deaths at the club [there have been six in total] have involved young people, mainly in the 18 to 24 age group. Drug culture exists at the club and the management has been inadequate at controlling it.

“Sale and distribution of Class A drugs is particularly serious and problems have not been addressed. Revocation of the licence is appropriate and proportional in light of this.”

The council chamber was packed out with Fabric staff on one side and supporters of the club in the public gallery, most of which sat through the entire meeting from 6.30pm to 1am. Town hall officers even carried out bag searches upon arrival.

The licensing sub committee meeting in Islington Town Hall. Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie is pictured on the left table, fourth from the left. His partner Keith Reilly is pictured behind in the chequered shirt. Picture: James MorrisThe licensing sub committee meeting in Islington Town Hall. Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie is pictured on the left table, fourth from the left. His partner Keith Reilly is pictured behind in the chequered shirt. Picture: James Morris

As reported in the Gazette, Sgt Aaron Barnes, an Islington officer, carried out an undercover investigation at the Charterhouse Street club in July. He claimed substance abuse was rife, and that security - such as door drug search policy - was lax.

Sgt Barnes told the committee that he had “no confidence” the club’s management could deal with the problem.

But Mr Leslie responded: “The notion of Fabric being a safe haven for drugs is frankly insulting.

“We established a pioneering confiscation procedure. We take suspected drug dealers to a monitoring room and they are arrested.

“My partner Keith Reilly stood up to organised crime when Fabric opened in 1999 [to prevent gangs selling drugs in the club]. He was forced to wear a bulletproof vest for a month. We take our responsibilities very seriously.

“Since 2012, 80 people have been arrested at Fabric on suspicion of drug dealing. There has only been one prosecution. Perhaps police should be taking a look at themselves.”

Referring to Sgt Barnes’ undercover operation codename of “Lenor” - after the “fabric” softener brand - Mr Leslie accused the Met of a “premeditated exercise” targeting the club.

He added: “Drug taking is endemic in society. There’s not one shred of evidence that closing this club would solve that.”

Adam Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industry Association, had also told the committee: “Fabric is a gold standard beacon of professionalism. It has more drug measures than any other institution. Their pursuing of safety measures is second to none.”

But Clerkenwell ward Cllr Raphael Andrews begged the committee to revoke the licence.

Cllr Andrews, on the verge of tears, said: “I am really sorry to be here. I am not surprised, though. I feel management of this club really doesn’t take into account safety of its patrons.

“I don’t want to be here in three or four years’ time hearing about someone else who died. I am begging you to consider revocation of the licence of this club.”

The committee, made up of Cllrs Williamson, Gary Poole and Asima Shaikh, deliberated in private for 90 minutes before announcing their decision at 1am.

A campaign to “save” the world-famous club had attracted 147,000 petition signatures as of 2.30am today. It has been backed by Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Keep updated with the Fabric latest on the Gazette website.

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