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Turf-war shooting closes nightclub for party season
Neighbours greet Ghost shutdown as police fear gang takeover
FESTIVE parties have been cancelled at a Farringdon nightclub after the owner lost an appeal against a police decision to shut it down following a shooting.
Police closed 400-capacity Ghost, which received rave reviews when it opened in February, after a man was shot inside the club in the early hours of Sunday December 13.
But Ghost’s management failed to convince the Town Hall’s licensing committee on Monday that they would be able to control any further violence if the Farringdon Road club was allowed to reopen pending a full licence review.
Ghost will now remain shut through the party season, until a full review, likely to take place on January 6, can be heard.
The closure came after a man was shot at point-blank range during a fight in an alcove inside the club. He suffered spinal injuries.
Police say the club’s doormen took the victim to hospital by car. Emergency services were not informed and club management was not made fully aware of the situation. It was only when the hospital reported the shooting that police knew to attend the club.
Owner David Serlui told the licensing committee he had since fired his door team and replaced them with a new company.
Islington Police Chief Inspector Steve Riley said groups from outside Islington had chosen Ghost to play out a turf war. Any future DJs, entertainers or promoters must be on Ghost’s payroll “to prevent the premises being taken over by groups from south London or anywhere else coming to Islington to fight their turf war, which is effectively what happened”, he added.
Robert Sutherland, representing Ghost, said the club would no longer use external promoters or entertainers, would stop serving alcohol at 2.30am and would shut at 3am. Drinks would be served in plastic containers and search arches and wands used to examine everyone who entered the club. He offered more than 20 new conditions, to be attached to his licence, many surrounding how door staff are managed and regulated.
But the committee remained unconvinced, particularly after Mr Sutherland admitted many of the new suggested conditions had been in place when the shooting occurred.
Refusing to reinstate the club’s licence, Lib Dem committee chairman Councillor Stefan Kasprzyk said the committee had “grave concerns” about the club.
Residents attended the hearing but were not allowed to speak until the full review. One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “We do not feel safe. I’ve lived in the area for 12 years and this is the first time I’ve felt threatened, intimidated and uncomfortable on the albeit gritty streets of Farringdon.”
Lib Dem ward councillor George Allan, who is leading a campaign to keep Ghost shut, said: “This wasn’t an isolated incident. The one regret I have is that it has taken a shooting to make the police take the problems with Ghost seriously.”