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PUBLICAN'S VICTORY AS COURT OVERRULES LICENSING COMMITTEE

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The landlord of a Sussex pub has won what his lawyers described as the first appeal in the country against a pub cl...
The landlord of a Sussex pub has won what his lawyers described as the first appeal in the country against a pub closure under the new licensing laws.

Joseph Williams - a publican for over 36 years - was reinstated as the designated premises supervisor (DPS) of the Sportsman pub in East Grinstead after a decision made by Mid Sussex DC in March 2006 to suspend the premises licence and remove Mr Williams as DPS was overturned on appeal at Horsham Magistrates Court.

The council's case against Mr Williams came as a result of police concern regarding several incidents at the property at the beginning of 2006. After a period of ill health, Mr Williams was forced to employ a temporary manager in December 2005 while, following doctors recommendations, he took a brief period of rest.

It was during the four weeks under the new manager that the incidents causing the local police some concern occurred. As soon as Mr Williams was made aware of the problems at his pub, he immediately dismissed the temporary manager who was the main cause of the mismanagement. It was the efficient way he dealt with the situation that resulted in his win in court.

David Lawrence, head of licensing at DMH Stallard, which represented Mr Williams, said: 'We are very pleased with this result as Mr Williams has an unblemished licensing record and it was only his ill health that meant he had to temporarily delegate his duties as DPS. It was unfortunate that the temporary manager chosen let Mr Williams down.

'This case was the first opportunity East Grinstead Police have had to exercise their new powers for review under the Licensing Act 2003. It is our opinion that the police set out to make an example of Mr Williams as a warning to other licensees in the area but overstepped the mark in this case and did not proceed in the spirit of the new act. This is a complex new area of law and it is clear that neither they nor Mid Sussex DC licensing committee fully appreciated their duties and responsibilities.'

The magistrates found in favour of Mr Williams and overturned the licensing committee's decision in its entirety. The Sportsman will therefore not suffer any closure, and Mr Williams will remain as DPS.

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