Tower Hamlets to pay strip club owner damages over closure after he claims councillor asked for bribe

Club Oops in Whitechapel (G)
Club Oops in Whitechapel (G)

A London borough is set to pay a strip club owner damages after he alleged his venue was forced to close because he refused to pay a councillor a “substantial” bribe.

Tower Hamlets council launched an investigation following the claims by Santosh Nair, who owns Club Oops in Whitechapel.

Mr Nair’s lap dancing bar was refused a renewal of its “sexual entertainment” licence at a meeting in September 2022 after he submitted his application a day late.

He challenged the decision in the High Court claiming a councillor had “sought and failed to elicit a substantial bribe” in return for granting the licence.

The council has agreed to pay Mr Nair’s legal costs and damages after the venue was forced to close for 16 months.

The local authority has also agreed to reinstate the club’s licence.

A Met police investigation was halted because of a lack of evidence.

The council’s Standard’s Advisory Committee in December heard that there “was evidence of wrongdoing” but the internal investigation was “unable to proceed as there is a lack of evidence to link it to the councillor” concerned.

It agreed “the matter should go to an independent investigator due to the seriousness of the allegation”.

In the last update to councillors, they were told that the external investigators were “making slow progress”.

Tower Hamlets Labour councillor Marc Francis said: “The council conceded this appeal ...This must now be investigated by Whitehall's ‘Best Value' inspectors.”

In February, the Government sent inspectors into the town hall for the second time in a decade amid concerns about how the borough is being run.

A Tower Hamlets council spokesman said: “The judgement made no findings against the council.

“An independent police investigation concluded that there is nothing to support the allegations, as did two separate internal investigations.

“The judgement outlines a settlement process for which the parties will discuss costs. As yet no agreement has been reached.”

Other allegations under investigation by Tower Hamlets council include that a councillor was seen “assisting another person with moving a couch which was then fly tipped”.