A couple fined £15,000 after a dead rat was found at their hotel and restaurant have lost an appeal at the crown court.

Former restaurateurs Kamal and Jewela Chowdhury were ordered, by magistrates, to pay the fine and £3,000 costs after environment health inspectors found the deceased rodent at the Kings Lodge Hotel, Hunton Bridge, Kings Langley in January 2008.

The married couple, who live in the £800,000 St Mary’s Vicarage, Shendish, were found guilty in February of a total of six offences relating to food hygiene - including failing to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests, resulting in rats obtaining access to food rooms.

An order was placed on the building closing it, after a visit from Three Rivers District Council officers found the dead rat in a corridor and noted rat droppings on the floor and the kitchen in an unhygienic state, with vegetation from outside coming in through the roof.

Although the couple said the kitchen was closed to the public they were found to be preparing food for workers, which was still an offence.

The business never recovered from adverse publicity, and the “goodwill” was sold for £180,000, to the current occupants, on a 15-year lease at a cost of £4,000 a month.

In an appeal against the sentence at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, Mr and Mrs Chowdhury said they had been victimised by the council.

Addressing Judge Marie Catterson as “my honour” throughout proceedings, Mr Chowdhury claimed he and his wife had been treated as “murderers”.

The former banker said: “They [the council] were going to teach us a good lesson and let us go bankrupt.

“They brought six charges against us, instead of working with us to put things right.

“We are second generation food operators and this is the first time we have been put in the dock; as if we had murdered someone.”

They appealed against the level of fine, claiming they could not afford to pay it, with Mr Chowdhury earning no income from business ventures in Africa, since the restaurant business ended two years ago.