Rita Ora: Venue to keep licence after admitting lockdown breach

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image captionRita Ora has said she "deserved criticism" for hosting a birthday party during lockdown on 28 November

A restaurant that broke lockdown rules to host Rita Ora's 30th birthday will not have its licence revoked.

The pop star's team offered the manager at Casa Cruz, in Notting Hill, £5,000 to allow guests to attend a party on 28 November, during the second virus lockdown, police said.

Kensington and Chelsea Council said it will suspend the venue's licence for six weeks.

The venue said it was "grateful for the council's careful consideration".

The restaurant's director Nic Fallows said: "We look forward to serving our customers and community as soon as we are permitted to re-open."

Rita Ora has previously apologised for the party.

The 30-year-old flew to Egypt for a private performance on 21 November. On her return the following day, she should have isolated for two weeks.

Instead, she threw a birthday party in London, which violated lockdown rules that prevented households mixing indoors.

image copyrightReuters
image captionRita Ora, pictured at the MTV Europe Music Awards last year

Ms Ora has said she "deserved criticism" for her actions, and would donate her fee from the concert to charity.

The general manager at Casa Cruz, Scottie Bhattarai, told police he was contacted by a representative of Ms Ora on the day of the party and offered £5,000 to open the venue.

In a statement to police, Mr Bhattarai said he had accepted the offer "because he was greedy". He was "fully aware the event breached coronavirus regulations".

He also confirmed that he had not received the £5,000 offered.

Mr Bhattarai said he began admitting guests at about 19:00 GMT. Between 15 and 20 people were at the venue at the party's peak, at about 21.00, he said.

The venue was found to have breached licensing rules by not allowing police into the premises and failing to provide them with CCTV footage.

Mr Bhattarai is also subject to a criminal investigation, while four partygoers were issued fines at the time. Their identities have not been revealed.

Casa Cruz said it fired Mr Bharratai following the revelations.

The council's licensing committee said the breach "was extremely serious" as it hampered the police's ability to investigate the incident.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionCasa Cruz said it was upgrading its CCTV system

In order to keep its licence to operate Casa Cruz must ban Mr Bhattarai from the premises and provide "extra safeguards to ensure CCTV is operational".

The venue must also implement a "noise dispersal and external management plan" and agree to meet local residents at least twice a year to discuss the operation of the premises.

Mr Fallows said the restaurant would "comply with all the additional conditions on the premises licence".

Casa Cruz will keeps its licence until the venue has had a chance to appeal against the committee's decision.

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