WHEN two licensing officers were called to investigate reports drunken revellers were enjoying a “lock-in” at a Leith bar, little can they have expected they were to be confronted with rowdy behaviour more akin to a Roman orgy.
The shocked male and female council duo arrived at La Mula Obstinada in Queen Charlotte Street at 2am to probe reports staff and patrons were enjoying an illicit, after-hours session.
But what happened next could have come straight from a “how to lose your liquor licence” manual, should such a thing exist.
The house guitarist, described as being “aggressive” and “very drunk”, grabbed the shocked male officer and began screaming obscenities at him.
He then flung the terrified female council worker down the restaurant stairs – causing her to narrowly miss smashing through a plate glass door – before attempting to expose himself at her.
The pair were attempting to escape to their car to call the police for back-up when the failed exposure attempt took place.
The unseemly scenes – which took place on October 6 – resulted in the Tapas-serving canteen being dragged before the licensing board last week, where owners were slapped with a ban on serving booze for two months.
The behaviour witnessed on the night in question was described as “completely unacceptable” at the meeting.
A council insider said: “This really was a perfect example of a situation where everything that can be done to lose a place its licence, was done. “
Describing the incident, Andrew Mitchell, community safety manager at Edinburgh City Council, said the officers expressed a “real fear of the situation that they were in as they felt that they were cornered”.
He said when the officers entered the bar it was in near darkness, with two men and a woman drinking at the bar.
Mr Mitchell wrote: “At this point a male who was standing behind the bar came round and grabbed one of the officers by the arm. The officer asked him not to put his hands on him. The male then tried to grab the officer’s ID badge from his hand. Acting in an aggressive manner the male then grabbed the officer and shouted at him to ‘get the f*** out’. The male then stepped towards the second officer and pushed her.
“As the officer moved towards the door the aggressor followed him and pushed the officer hard on the back causing the officer to stumble down the stairs and almost fall through the glass door.”
Joanna Mowat, a board member and city centre councillor, said after the verdict: “We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to attacking employees of the council and if you start chucking officers down the stairs we’re going to suspend your licence. Licence-holders have to know these officers are doing a job and it is completely unacceptable for them to be treated in this way.”
During the hearing, lawyer for the restaurant Alistair Macdonald disputed some of the facts from the report, but told the board that his client accepted that it had been an unfortunate incident.
After the hearing, Alex Moreno, manager at La Mula Obstinada, which translates as The Obstinate Mule, said his firm regretted the incident and that it would suffer financially from not having a licence for Christmas.
He said: “There were some staff and customers celebrating and a guitarist, who was playing on the night but who isn’t an employee, was involved in what happened.
“You can imagine the impact it will have on us at Christmas and we regret what happened.”