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Fabric renews vow to appeal licensing decision as town hall conspiracy theory is rubbished

PUBLISHED: 10:01 15 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:20 15 September 2016

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Superclub Fabric has renewed its vow to appeal Islington Council’s decision to revoke its licence.

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

Director Cameron Leslie told the Gazette Fabric would “definitely” appeal the September 6 ruling – music to the ears of 150,000 who backed a petition to “save” it ahead of the decision.

“We are determined to fight the council’s decision and challenge the way that the police brought this review against us,” he said in a statement. “Without challenge these tactics could close every licensed premises in the country.”

In the hours after Islington revoked the Farringdon club’s licence, a conspiracy theory about the cash-strapped council having masterminded its demise with a view to developing the site appeared in The Independent.

But title documents held by the land registry prove Fabric Properties Ltd still owns the leasehold it acquired on the Charterhouse Street property in 2011 for £4.2million, meaning the future of the building is not under the borough’s control.

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

When asked, Islington said it “will not” compulsory purchase the building, which would be the only way it could come into the council’s hands.

There was also speculation the venue could be turned into flats, but Islington said it would never approve the building of homes without windows, as any underground flats would presumably be.

It also confirmed no such planning application has been made.

Fabric’s licence was revoked after a fraught six-hour meeting at which committee members heard hotly-contested evidence from police officers that there was a widespread culture of drug abuse at the club.

"We are determined to fight the council’s decision and challenge the way that the police brought this review against us. Without challenge these tactics could close every licensed premises in the country"

Director Cameron Leslie

Mr Leslie pointed out a judge had called the club a “beacon of best practice” months ago, questioning why cops had charged just one of 80 suspected drug dealers Fabric had handed over.

Patrons and workers took to social media to question whether the closure had been a fait-accompli, egged on by the revelation in licensing papers police entered the club undercover in the wake of a boy’s death.

Fabric supporters said Scotland Yard’s use of the codename Operation Lenor suggested officials were trying to “fabric soften” the venue and had gone in with the intention of shutting the club down rather than conducting a fair assessment.

Police told the Gazette op names were chosen at random but could not confirm the date Operation Lenor commenced, though its first mention in licensing papers is dated July 3 – a week after 18-year-old Ryan Browne died following an apparent MDMA overdose.

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

Fabric Properties has a lease on the property from freeholder TfL until 2111.

Buildings above street level are owned by Piccadilly-based Charleswood Estates Ltd and Smiths of Smithfield, with the exception of an area on the ground floor also leased to Fabric Properties.

Fabric’s tenant is Fabric Life, the body that ran the club itself. Documents lodged with Companies House show Fabric Properties Ltd has two directors: Gary Kilbey, also a Fabric Life director and uncle of Towie star Tom Kilbey, and Brazilian national Geber Tufik Bittar Filho, who was a Fabric Life director until July 27. Mr Leslie took over as director on the same day.

The club’s last weekend was August 5 to August 7, during which another 18-year-old boy, Jack Crossley, died following a suspected drugs overdose.


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