The Licensing Committee of Tower Hamlets Council has refused to renew the SEV licence of Whites Gentlemen’s Club in Whitechapel

05 Sep 2019


Whites Gentlemen’s Club was one of just a handful of venues in Tower Hamlets to still hold a Sexual Entertainment Venue licence. It has operated on Leman Street in Whitechapel, on the outskirts of the City of London, for over a decade – but the premises was purchased by new management earlier this year.

Like many local authorities, Tower Hamlet’s official position is that the appropriate number of SEVs in its borough is none – but an exception is made for long-established venues which were already in operation before the new SEV licensing regime took effect in 2010.

An SEV licence must be renewed every year and may be refused on the ground that the applicant is “unsuitable” to hold a licence.

In May 2019, Whites applied to renew its SEV licence.

Tower Hamlets arranged for a test purchase operation at the premises and at a number of other premises.

The undercover operatives discovered a number of clear breaches of the SEV licence conditions at Whites and that the management was failing to take proper steps to enforce them. Whites was the only venue to fail the test purchase operation.

During the Licensing Authority’s subsequent investigation, the premises (whether by accident or design) deleted CCTV footage of the private dance areas, despite the authority having requested its disclosure on two separate occasions.

On 3 September 2019, the renewal application was heard by a full panel of the Tower Hamlets Licensing Committee, sitting late into the night.

Having heard the evidence and submissions of both parties (part of which was in closed session), the Committee decided to refuse to renew the licence, accepting the Licensing Authority’s argument that the applicant was unsuitable to hold a licence.

Matt Lewin, of Cornerstone Barristers’ Licensing Team, represented the Licensing Authority. The applicant was represented by David Dadds of Dadds Solicitors LLP.