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Fabric appeal: Farringdon nightclub could win right to reopen at 2pm today

PUBLISHED: 13:55 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:03 21 November 2016

A petition to 'save' Fabric notched up 160,000 signatures. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

A petition to 'save' Fabric notched up 160,000 signatures. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Farringdon nightclub Fabric could this afternoon win the right to reopen at a last-minute appeal hearing.

Fabric founder Cameron LeslieFabric founder Cameron Leslie

The Charterhouse Street venue, opened in 1999, was dramatically shut down by Islington Council in September following the drug deaths of two teenagers over the summer.

But bosses, bolstered by an enormous swell of support from patrons, DJs and musicians, vowed to appeal the decision and three days were set for a judge to hear their argument next week.

Now lawyers for both sides are understood to have hit on a set of new licensing conditions aimed at boosting security and anti-drug measures. Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court is expected to make a decision on them following a 2pm hearing.

A court spokeswoman said: “An indication has been given that the district judge may be asked to consider dealing with this appeal on terms agreed between parties.”

"Police... abused archaic licensing laws in order to close us down and they will continue to do so if we do not come together and take action now"

Fabric official statement after being shut by Islington Council in September

The new conditions are likely to draw from a 155-page “gold standard” for new security measures submitted by Fabric to the court at the start of November.

As first reported in the Gazette, police went undercover at the venue in July. Their findings, chiefly a highly critical report by Islington police officer Sgt Aaron Barnes, formed much of the evidence that was used to decide the club’s fate.

Sgt Barnes claimed substance abuse was rife, and said measures to stop drugs getting in were too lax.

Director Cameron Leslie hit back at the licensing meeting itself, saying the club had handed 80 suspected drug dealers to officers and only one had been prosecuted.

The iconic Farringdon club replaced its sign with an advert for the #savefabric campaign in the wake of Islington Council's licensing condition. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA WireThe iconic Farringdon club replaced its sign with an advert for the #savefabric campaign in the wake of Islington Council's licensing condition. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

After closing, Fabric posted a statement on its website claiming police had “abused archaic licensing laws in order to close us down and they will continue to do so if we do not come together and take action now”.

Appealing for donations to back its appeal – which have since topped £320,000 – it added: “We need you to stand with us and contribute to the campaign fund to help retain a small Fabric team, the venue in hibernation and to prepare a legal battle to re-open and stop this police oppression. The last time we took the police on in court, we won.”

The statement refers to the club’s victory in 2015 in an appeal against the use of sniffer dogs and ID scanners.

Both had been included in a list of licence conditions imposed on Fabric – by the council rather than the police – following four drug deaths in three years.

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 business partner Keith Reilly is pictured behind in the checked 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 business partner Keith Reilly is pictured behind in the checked shirt. Picture: James Morris

Coroner Mary Hassell last week recorded a verdict of MDMA toxicity in the death of Ryan Browne on June 25. Ryan, 18, was the first person to die after taking drugs at the club this year.

The second, Jack Crossley, died on August 6, sparking a temporary closure that lasted until the licensing committee meeting a month later.

Since then, voices petitioning the town hall to find a way of keeping the club open have included Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Fabric’s local MP Emily Thornberry (Lab, Islington South and Finsbury).

The club has been praised in the past both for its hardline approach to drug abuse and the quality of its medics.

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

At last week’s inquest it attracted the support of Ms Hassell, who said: “I am convinced Fabric’s medical care was excellent, and I don’t often hear of that with nightclubs.”

For all the latest from this afternoon’s hearing, follow us on Twitter.


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