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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 March, 2003, 14:14 GMT
Lap dancing club keeps licences
Spearmint Rhino
The club still denies allegations made against it
A lap dancing club has come within a "hair's breadth" of losing its licenses after allegations of improper conduct on its premises.

The case followed allegations The Tottenham Court Road branch of Spearmint Rhino, in London's West End, was being run like a brothel as clients were allowed to touch intimately the women who worked there.

Scotland Yard's Club and Vice Unit had undertaken undercover and prearranged visits to the flagship venue, popular with city traders and celebrities, in March 2001 and July 2002.

The Magistrate at Highbury Corner Court agreed with officers' findings that acts carried out at the club were indecent but allowed it to keep its licenses as long as the holders' names were changed.

'Vigorous policing'

Chief Inspector Ken Withers told the court he had "grave concerns" as activities at the club could be construed as running a brothel.

Chair of the bench Melvin Marks said: "The management of Spearmint Rhino should be fully aware that they came within a hair's breadth of losing their licence.

He said the club could expect "vigorous policing" of their compliance with the licensing code.

In a statement Spearmint Rhino said it was "relieved and pleased with the result".

'Working partnership'

It went on: "The allegations were made against the licensees and not the club; these allegations were simply unfounded.

"Spearmint Rhino have not applied for costs as an expression of our sincerity in wanting to form a working partnership with the police."

Mr Marks said the club had now tightened its rules but warned it would be closed down if there were any further breaches.

The hearing lasted for two weeks.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Guy Smith
"The club has tightened up procedures, dancers now have to sign a code of conduct"



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