4:30pm Wednesday 30th January 2013
By Rebecca Perring
Police have blocked an application for a new manager to be introduced in a Kings Langley pub after they raised concerns of the candidate’s previous criminal convictions, including selling alcohol to underage children.
This comes after the landlord of The Bell, Daniel Fenwick, put in the application to introduce Stephen Leather as the new designated premises manager (DPM), while he set up business at a newly opened bar in Nottingham.
At the licensing committee meeting last night (Tuesday), Sergeant Marie White objected to Mr Leather taking the role as manager at the pub in Primrose Hill due to his previous 33 criminal convictions including "violent" and alcohol related crimes.
Some of his previous convictions include selling alcohol to an underage person in December 2010 and a public nuisance offence in 2006.
Sergeant Marie White said:" I believe due to Mr Leather’s wide range of previous convictions, some relating to alcohol, he is not a suitable DPM.
"Mr Leather’s previous conviction of selling alcohol to underage persons most concerns me because it directly conflicts with the objective to protect children from harm.
"All of his criminal convictions show disregard for the law of the country and a number of them is a good indication of the person and character of Mr Leather."
Mr Leather obtained his licence in 2009 and said he "was a little bit naive" to practices when selling alcohol to an underage person, while in his first role as manager at a pub in Derby.
Sergeant White also highlighted incidents at the pub involving a fight between young people in June and July 2012, which raised concerns for Mr Leather to take up the role as manager.
Mr Leather was not employed at the pub, when these incidents occured.
She added: "Given the location of premises, it is even more imperative the DPM should be of good character and given the importance and high responsibility of this role, I do not believe Mr Leather’s history provides evidence that he is responsible to be left in charge of this premises.
"I am still unsure as to why Mr Leather obtained a licence in the first place."
The landlord of the pub, Mr Fenwick defended Mr Leather, describing him as "hard working" and "reliable".
Mr Fenwick said: "Mr Leather came top of the list and came highly recommended based on own performances in the past.
"He was completely honest with me and made me aware he had previous convictions, as much as he was legally obliged to.
"There have been no issues since Mr Leather has been running the pub and we are happy with Mr Leather and his abilities to do the job.
"He is more than capable and I am more than happy to back Mr Leather 100 percent."
He added he thought Mr Leather had learnt his lesson from his previous convictions.
On hearing the evidence before them, politicians made the decision to refuse the application on the basis it would undermine the crime and prevention objective and the prevention of children from harm.
Councillor Martin Trevett, chairman of the meeting, advised the application may have been premature and the pair should work to show a "longer, trouble-free time of employment."
On hearing the news, Mr Fenwick and Mr Leather said they would try to build a relationship with the police over a longer period, to prove Mr Leather is a responsible candidate.
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