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Fabric forced to close permanently following council review

07 September 2016, 07:43 | Written by Laurence Day

Iconic London nightclub Fabric will be closed for good following a review into the club's response to drug issues.

Representatives of Fabric met with Islington Council, the Metropolitan Police and the Islington Public Health Authority last night, and after a six hour review (five hours of evidence presentation and one of deliberation), Licensing sub-committee Chair Flora Williamson ruled against Fabric. She said that the "sale and distribution of Class A drugs is particularly serious and problems have not been addressed. Revocation of the licence is appropriate and proportional in light of this.”

Fabric, one of the UK capital's most iconic venues, is regarded as one of the biggest and best clubs in the entire country, but has suffered a series of drug-related deaths in recent years. Fabric's license was initially suspended last month following the deaths of 18-year-old club goers Ryan Browne and Jack Crossley.

Williamson added, noting that Fabric were in breach of their license, that "staff intervention and security was grossly inadequate in light of the overwhelming evidence that it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs and manifesting symptoms showing that they were."

Cameron Leslie, Fabric's co-founder, said during the hearing, which ended at 1am: “The notion of Fabric being a safe haven for drugs is frankly insulting. We established a pioneering confiscation procedure. We take suspected drug dealers to a monitoring room and they are arrested. My partner Keith Reilly stood up to organised crime when Fabric opened in 1999 [to stop gangs dealing drugs in the club]. He was forced to wear a bulletproof vest for a month. We take our responsibilities very seriously... since 2012, 80 people have been arrested at Fabric on suspicion of drug dealing. There has only been one prosecution. Perhaps police should be taking a look at themselves. Drug taking is endemic in society. There’s not one shred of evidence that closing this club would solve that.”

Leslie also suggested that the Metropolitan Police force, who operated undercover at the club, embarked upon a “premeditated exercise” against Fabric. Some critics argue that the venue has been shut as a result of ulterior motives. In recent years a number of high-profile establishments, such as Madame Jojo's, have been shut to make way for new developments.

Fabric's official statement reads: “Fabric is extremely disappointed with Islington Council’s decision to revoke our license. This is an especially sad day for those who have supported us, particularly the 250 staff who will now lose their jobs. Closing Fabric is not the answer to the drug-related problems clubs like ours are working to prevent, and sets a troubling precedent for the future of London’s night time economy.”

The BBC believe that "the decision [to close Fabric] is expected to have a huge implication on the London nightlife scene, as well as other cities across the UK."

A petition to save Fabric has attracted 150,000 signatures and support from Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Last night Alan Miller (Night Time Industries Association) told a crowd who'd gathered outside the council building: “This is not the end of the story. This is just the beginning. We are going to call on people to contribute funds in a grassroots national movement to lobby their MP and councillors to say enough is enough.

“If it wasn’t for places like Fabric we would have none of our cultural assets - where we get inspired, where we fall in love. We are going to challenge this. It is unacceptable. We are going to put a crowdfunder statement out and we are going self-finance and support a fund to fight for fabric and everyone in the industry because when they come for you they come for all of us.”

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