Birmingham police criticised over gay pub raid

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Police in the West Midlands have failed in their efforts to get a gay pub’s licence revoked.

Their request followed an earlier attempt to raid The Fountain Inn for pornography and drugs after receiving an anonymous tip-off.

Police bungled the raid when they went to an Irish family pub, The Fountain, a mile down the road.

The pub’s drinkers were highly amused by the blunder.

“As soon as we all realised what was going on, we were in fits of laughter,” said landlord Brian Tohill, according to the Sunday Mercury.

“The barman asked what they were looking for and they said they’d been tipped off that we were showing dirty movies and dealing drugs.

“We couldn’t believe it. Everybody fell about laughing.

“The only blue movie we’ve ever shown is Match of the Day.”

Police then carried out the intended raid at The Fountain Inn where they found a room full of people watching counterfeit hardcore pornography.

Following the search, police applied to the council to have the pub’s licence withdrawn.

Although their application was rejected, the committee in charge of the case imposed 11 conditions on The Fountain Inn.

These included use of CCTV in line with the licence conditions, no entry to under-18s and no adult entertainment to be shown on the premises.

The committee also suggested that the pub apply for an Adult Licence, which would allow them to show pornographic films.

But a Birmingham MP and seven Liberal Democrat councillors have since made a formal complaint against the Superintendent in charge of the debacle.

According to Superintendent Jim Titley, whenever a “serious breach” of licensing regulation occurs – in this case, the use of a bootleg DVD – the police have no alternative but to refer the matter to the council.

Government guidance concerning licensing does not however include any such instructions.

Speaking on the matter, Midlands MP John Hemming said: “Either the Superintendent simply didn’t understand the law himself or he was purposefully avoiding telling the truth.”

The police have been particularly criticised because their only justification for the raid was an anonymous letter.

Bernard McEldowney, deputy chair of the Gay Police Association said: “As a serving police officer myself, it did seem to me to be rather disproportionate to respond to an anonymous letter without at least giving consideration to the possibility that homophobia or some other malice may have been a motivating factor.”