The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Wednesday 1st March 2006 - Abbey Road - Westminster not to prosecute

According to the BBC, Westminster City Council won't be prosecuting Abbey Road Studios for the unlicensed Coldplay gig on Monday 13 February.


This light touch contrasts sharply with the way many pubs hosting innocuous gigs have been treated in the past, and with these examples of Westminster licensing prosecutions:

In November 2002 Westminster successfully prosecuted Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries (W&DB), owner of the high street chain Pitcher & Piano. Licensing officers reported customers 'swaying rhythmically' to music in two of its sites, Trafalgar Square and Soho. W&DB was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,600 costs in addition to its own legal fees. Public dancing remains illegal under the new legislation, unless the venue is appropriately licensed.

Also in 2002, Westminster successfully prosecuted a hotel owner [name omitted] and a singer, Lee Lindsay, who ran a private members music club called 'Tall Poppy Presents'. There were no noise or safety issues.  The hotel did not have a public entertainment licence, but had put in an application. Ms Lindsay sought and was given advice by Westminster licensing officers on how to run a private members club, pending the outcome of the hotel's entertainment licence application. But within a few weeks of the club opening, licensing officers turned up unannounced, posing as members of the public, and gained entry to the club then being held at the Henry VIII hotel, 19 Leinster Gardens, W2. The problem was the guy on the door should have turned them away, as they had not registered 24 hours in advance. What other crimes did the undercover council officers find? Well, among other things, they said they saw one woman dancing for a short time.

Ms Lindsay was summoned to the council offices and subjected to what she regarded as an unpleasant interrogation.

The case was held at Horseferry Road Magistrates Courts. Fortunately the outcome wasn't as bad as the Pitcher & Piano story. But the experience was traumatic, and Ms Lindsay has since moved to Vancouver, Canada.She sent me an update earlier this week:

'... it ended up that we were given a slap on the wrist and we had to pay our own court costs.  AND the venue was never granted a license after all the money they spent applying and we had to shut down there and go on to various pubs and then I eventually moved to Canada life in England just doesn't support live music but I'm starting Tall Poppy Presents over here, check out the website! '

Hamish Birchall