A spokesperson for the now-closed Brixton Fridge Bar has accused the police of “false and malicious prosecution” after the Crown Prosecution Service at the last minute dropped charges against bar staff arising from an incident on Sunday 19 April last year.
In a statement, the spokesperson said that three men attacked the bar’s head of security.
“One of these men was armed with a knife. These men were barred from entering our premises because of their violent behaviour towards another group of totally innocent partygoers.
“The director of the Fridge Bar and another member of security rushed to his aid and managed to subdue the attackers, rescuing their colleague from serious harm.”
The spokesperson said that Metropolitan police officers attended. “However, instead of arresting the violent attackers, they decided to arrest our director and one of our security staff, despite the fact that the offenders threatened to return and use firearms against the club and its staff.
“Fridge Bar turned over all CCTV to the police and our director made an immediate full and comprehensive statement upon his arrest.”
The spokesperson said untruths about the incident appeared in the press and that Lambeth council’s licensing committee was asked by the police to close the Fridge Bar on four separate occasions, adding: “yet we were allowed to continue trading”.
The bar was negotiating with Lambeth council to purchase its premises at the time, but closed last October.
Last Wednesday (2 March) the bar director and security staff member attended Inner London Crown Court for the beginning of their trial on assault charges.
The spokesperson said that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had decided to drop all charges. It said that Fridge Bar CCTV showed an attacker with a knife in his left hand striking bar security staff and that the director made a full statement explaining what had taken place.
The spokesperson said: “The statement provided by our director was entirely consistent with the evidence provided by the CCTV. This evidence had been in the possession of the Metropolitan Police and the CPS for the past year.
The judge first viewed the Fridge Bar CCTV on 12 August last year and “invited the CPS to review this case and decide whether they wish to pursue it”. The CPS did review and, in September 2015, decided to push ahead with the prosecution.
But the CPS then withdrew all charges on the day of the trial. The judge agreed that this was not a case that should not go any further.
“This case has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds and has put the director of Fridge Bar, his family and the staff through hell, over the course of last year,” said the spokesperson.
Civil rights activist lee Jasper commented: “I believe this was an attempt to discredit the owner, have his licence removed and facilitate the smooth transition of Brixton’s ongoing gentrification.”