Our Day In Court
As you know, fabric has been permitted to open its doors once again, following a hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Monday 21st November. This was the culmination of intensive work by fabric and negotiations with Islington Council. As part of the settlement, we were required to sign a joint statement by the Council which precludes us from making any further statement in relation to the appeal, so we won’t.
The comments of our barrister Philip Kolvin QC to the Judge have been reported in the press, so as a matter of fair reporting we reproduce his address in full below.
This case has settled on the terms filed with the Court. I can therefore be brief.
As is true of all appeals following reviews of licences, there would have been evidence and argument as to what has happened in the past.
However, the appeal is a rehearing of the review application, whose purpose is not to punish or impose sanction for past events, but to consider the present position and ask whether in future the licensing objectives will be promoted. In other words it is a regulatory and not a penal process.
fabric has always set out to lead the industry in terms of its security, welfare and medical response. It therefore decided to conduct a root and branch re-appraisal of all of its processes and procedures, so as to ensure that it does so in the future.
To conduct this review, it engaged the services of leading counsel and solicitors, former Chief Inspector Adrian Studd, who ran the Clubs and Vice Unit at the Metropolitan Police, and whose last duties at the Metropolitan Police included licensing at the Olympic Games, and also Professor Fiona Measham, a leading academic who runs a charity named the Loop which provides welfare and outreach services in dance venues.
The outcome is a new 155 page operating manual which sets out in great detail the processes for promotion of the licensing objectives at the club, from the first moment of customer arrival to the last moment of departure, including staff training, the policies to which the club as a whole will run, the responsibilities of everyone from the most junior to the most senior personnel for implementing them and the audit and surveillance systems to ensure that they the policies are being followed. The manual is supported by a number of new conditions which have been offered and accepted, and which give legal force to the obligations willingly accepted by my client.
The manual and the conditions effectively form the basis for operation of the club now agreed between my client, the licensing authority and the Police.
It is impossible to go through all of the manual and the conditions individually, but some of the main points are as follows:
• The DPS at the club is relieved of all responsibility save compliance. The commercial side of the business is to be separately managed.
• New posts of head of welfare, head of security and search captains are created.
• A new welfare team is created, which will work at the club nightly and conduct brief interventions where needed.
• A new post of CCTV controller has been created, to monitor the CCTV at the venue so as to ensure that all those working at the club are doing so effectively and to spot criminal or welfare matters. To have a person monitoring the system rather than merely using it as a recording facility is rare if not unique in pub and club environments in London.
• All 250 staff are to receive drug awareness training.
• ID scanners will be used at the club by opening and staffing further entrances to accommodate them.
• On the main club nights, those under 19 will not be admitted, in the light of the fact that the latest fatalities were of that age.
• New posts of internal and external auditor are created, to monitor compliance.
But fabric has gone further. There is an international standard for quality management named ISO 9001:2015. fabric subjected its procedures to the ISO accreditation process and emerged with flying colours. It is now the holder of the accreditation. Maintenance of the accreditation involves periodic audit ensuring that the club does not permit its performance and compliance to lapse. In other words, the quality management systems at the club are in accordance with a recognised, international standard of excellence.
Finally, fabric would not be here now, but for the support of the 7166 people who have funded this appeal. To them, fabric, its 250 staff and its customers past and present are eternally grateful, as they are also grateful to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the Night Czar Amy Lamé, and the MP for Islington South and Finsbury Emily Thornberry who have all made valuable statements about this case, to the 900 people who exercised their democratic right to make representations to the licensing authority and the 160,000 who signed a petition in favour of the club.
We therefore commend this set of conditions to the Court. The regulatory purpose has been served and all parties are satisfied that the operating manual and the conditions are more than adequate to promote the licensing objectives. You will note from the proposed court order that my client has agreed to pay Islington’s costs of this appeal. We should state for the record that that will not be taken out of the moneys raised publicly for this appeal. It will be paid by fabric from its own resources.
There is always more that can be said in cases of this nature. But as part of the settlement of this case, fabric was invited to agree a joint statement drafted by the London Borough of Islington and has done so. For that reason, fabric is unable to make any further comment in relation to this appeal. The statement will be issued following this hearing.
After being addressed by lawyers on both sides, District Judge Robin McPhee made the order requested by the parties.
We owe so much to so many people for making this outcome possible. As such we’d like to express our deepest gratitude to the thousands of people who each played such a crucial role in getting us here.
Firstly there’s our family, from the 872 of you who wrote with great passion and persuasion to make representations in the Review Hearing, to the 160,000 who signed a petition of support, then there’s the 7,000 of you who showed us so much generosity in funding the complex Appeal process.
You all made this outcome possible, so on behalf of everyone at fabric, thank you.
It’s been a humbling experience, one that has moved us deeply - seeing a community of people come together in the name of our culture. It’s something we will never forget.
Working behind the scenes fighting on our behalf, our legal team deserve our thanks, they were exemplary in their handling of the case. They were led by renowned licencing barrister Philip Kolvin QC, who came to us with a reputation of logic and the ability to mend matters. Philip has more than proved his skill in his actions and advice, showing himself as a superb strategist and leader throughout the process. We firmly believe he has been instrumental in getting all parties together and working to a common agenda. Furthermore we’d like to express our gratitude to him for working at reduced rates to bring this situation to a fair conclusion.
Also playing a huge part in the legal proceedings was Paddy Whur (of Woods Whur), our solicitor who has stood by our side now for over three years giving advice, providing us with endless help and guidance. He’s worked tirelessly through holidays, late nights and weekends to pull together a huge quantity of evidence. We know and Philip agrees, that without the dedicated contribution of Paddy and all his team at Woods Whur, this outcome equally would not have been accomplished.
We’d like to make a special mention of Patrick Hennessy (a barrister of 39 Essex Street Chambers) who was a true gent and worked pro bono for our cause. Thank you Patrick.
As with all negotiations, there have been many people involved behind the scenes who worked tirelessly to achieve this shared goal of re-opening fabric. We’re sincerely grateful for the contribution of The Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn, the Night Czar Amy Lamé, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries Justine Simons, the Head of Music at GLA Paul Broadhurst, the MP for Islington Emily Thornberry, the Night Time Mayor of Amsterdam Mirik Milan and the Head of Berlin’s Club Commission Lutz Leichsenring - all deserve a share of our thanks.
Finally, we must not forget the input from Islington Council, especially Cllr Richard Watts & Service Director Jan Hart who were instrumental in the logistical discussions taking place.
Now we have reached this positive conclusion of our case, we will be closing donations to the #saveourculture this Wednesday 23rd November at 5pm. We envisage having a substantial surplus due to the overwhelming support that’s been shown to us and these residual funds will be used to help other worthy causes within the industry, including Philip Kolvin QC’s pursuance of licencing reform which he is currently championing. We will look to report on this in our final Transparency Statement.
If you donated, keep an eye on your inbox as we will very shortly be inviting you to cement your part in fabric’s history and be part of a piece of artwork we are creating to install in the club.
As we have previously reported, we were invited to submit representations to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 as to the difficulties faced by licensed premises. Our representations can be read here. We’ll keep you updated on progress of this work which the #saveourculture fund is making possible. Through this action we are seeking to protect other venues from having expensive legal proceedings brought against them until every other avenue has been exhausted. Closing a premises should be a last resort and this is what we are still working towards.
We are now looking forward to the future and being able to open up our club again. We’re fixed on that moment that we turn the sound system back on and reunite the fabric family in our disco to engage in enjoying the world class music of our residents and family of artists. This is what it has always been about – being able to share in these experiences, together.
We hope to see you back in EC1 very soon.
Financial Statement as at 5pm Friday 18th November.
Outgoings In Past 2 Weeks
Legal and Professional: £2,313.00
IT (Site Support): £300.00
T-shirt Purchases: £0.00
T-shirt Post / Fulfilment: £0.00
Expert Witness Costs: £1,750.00
Total Costs: £4,883.00
Total Pledged: £320,215.00
Less Grand Total Costs
Expenditure (T2 & T3 & T4 & T5): £188,549.14
Total at Bank: £188,549.14
Managing Director, fabric