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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Sunday opening fight lost by pub
Beer pumps
Mr Hague was refused a licence to open his bar on Sundays
A Lewis pub has lost a long-running legal battle to open on a Sunday.

Kevin Hague, landlord of the Borve Tavern, Borve, was appealing against a Western Isles licensing board decision to refuse his application in 2004.

He originally claimed "religious bias" on the part of board member Murdo Macleod, a Free Church deacon, but later cited "natural justice" grounds.

Sheriff David Sutherland ruled that Mr Hague's arguments were not "well founded".

Last April, Mr Hague was unsuccessful in his bid to remove the sheriff, also a Free Church elder, from hearing the case on the grounds that he too may be biased.

I do not consider that the pursuer's arguments on natural justice to be well founded
Sheriff David Sutherland

About 150 people signed a petition protesting over the plans to sell drink on Sundays in the rural crofting district.

At a Stornoway Sheriff Court hearing, advocate Stuart Holmes focused on a press report about Mr Macleod's support of the Fourth Commandment - remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy - and his stance against the Sunday opening of Stornoway sports centre as well as the influence he may have had on board members.

However, Sheriff Sutherland pointed out that their religious views did not bar people from sitting on a licensing board and he excluded any consideration of religious bias.

He believed that a fair minded person would not consider Mr Macleod or the licensing board to be biased.

In refusing the appeal in a written statement, Sheriff Sutherland said: "I do not consider that the pursuer's arguments on natural justice to be well founded."

'Particularly pleased'

Mr Hague was told to pay expenses to Barvas Free Church and the licensing board which both defended the appeal.

He now has the opportunity to appeal to a higher court.

Mr Hague declined to comment until he had decided on whether to pursue the case further.

"There is a possibility that I will appeal," he said.

Donald Maclean, the licensing board chairman said he was "delighted" at the findings.

"The board considered the application on the merits of the case and I am happy the sheriff agreed with us," he said.

"I am particularly pleased the sheriff accepted we may take objections on behalf of a Christian church into account."

He added: "We will apply the same criteria to all applicants."

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