Landlord blames police ‘overreaction’ after Chief Constable bid to shut his pub

A pub landlord claimed attempts by police to close his rowdy boozer were an “overreaction” - after he caught an off-duty cop urinating in a stairwell.
Cheers Pub in Greenock.Cheers Pub in Greenock.
Cheers Pub in Greenock.

The pub, Cheers, in Greenock town centre, Inverclyde, has been plagued by complaints of criminality in the past eight months - including an attack which left a punter needing 120 stitches, a rape allegation and a funeral which ended in bar staff being assaulted.

Police urged councillors at Inverclyde Licensing Board to revoke landlord Ian Ellis’ licence, and accused him of being ‘uncooperative, unprofessional and obstructive’.

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One officer said she had ‘never seen anything like it’, and concerns were raised about drug use in the pub, the actions of door staff and ‘highly intoxicated’ customers.

In September, plainclothes officers went round to the pub to seize CCTV but Mr Ellis allegedly refused to hand it over, prompting more police to be sent.

In a letter, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone described it as “a significant drain on police resources”.

However Mr Ellis claimed through his lawyer that 27 police officers had been sent round, and insisted it was an “overreaction” to the landlord catching an off-duty cop urinating in a stairwell the previous month.

He went on to claim that the officer had been ‘exposing himself to females’.

Mr Ellis’ brief, Andrew Hunter, said: “On this occasion I would agree with the Chief Superintendent.

“It was a significant drain on resources and I would say an overreaction to have all these officers, whether nine or 27 at a pub on a busy Friday night for CCTV footage.

“Mr Ellis has repeatedly told officers that he is about in the mornings if officers want to view CCTV.

“The incident on August 12 was the main source of all this.

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“We are led to believe that the man described as urinating on the stairwell was an off-duty police officer and he was ejected on the night for exposing himself to females.”

But Inspector Julie MacDonald told the hearing: “I am disappointed that it has got to this stage.

“We would normally work with owners of licensed premises and come up with solutions.

“But Mr Ellis continued to be uncooperative, unprofessional and obstructive.

“I have never before in my career seen anything like this.

“It is also our view that patrons are highly intoxicated inside the premises.”

Reports to police included a fight at a funeral in April when bar staff were assaulted.

The following month, in May, workers contacted police after a female customer claimed she had been raped.

On July 15 police were called to the hospital following report of an assault in West Stewart Street, where a victim was left with five separate wounds to his face and needed 120 stitches.

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Less than a week later, cops were called again after a woman reported being attacked.

On on September 21, plain clothed police officers turned up at Cheers to obtain CCTV footage but were allegedly refused entry, prompting more officers to be sent.

Mr Ellis was told to upgrade his CCTV operations in light of the review, and meet a condition that four members of staff will be trained to use it and it should be available should the police request it.

The landlord is making a formal complaint to police about his treatment, his lawyer said.

Board convenor Ronnie Ahlfeld said: “The board has had concerns about the reports of over-intoxication of patrons in the Cheers premises.

“Police Scotland are committed to working in partnership with licensed premises.

“We have grave concerns.

“But we do not believe there was sufficient evidence to revoke the licence on this occasion.”

He concluded that a warning letter would be sent to Mr Ellis with all the conditions.