Strip club accused of fleecing customer out of £50k loses SEV licence

London strip club Sophisticats, on Eversholt Street in Euston, Camden (Kirsty O’Connor/PA).

A strip club accused of fleecing a drunk customer out of £50,000 has had its licence revoked by a council.

SophistiCats, which bills itself as London’s “premier” lap dancing club, was accused of “taking advantage” of patrons by the Metropolitan Police.

One customer, who works in finance, told officers he woke up to find credit card receipts totalling £50,000, after visiting the venue on Eversholt Street in Camden on February 27 2019.

Another customer claimed £8,000 was taken from his account “without his consent” during a drunken visit on September 28, while his friend was charged £2,500.

It led to police recommending for the club’s Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEV) licence to be revoked in a report that went before Camden Council’s licencing committee on Thursday.

Barrister Robert Cohen, representing the Met, said officers had noticed “startling similarities” between various alleged incidents at the club.

He told the committee: “The Met Police Service’s position is that it is likely customers were being taken advantage of on multiple occasions.

“It is likely performers were encouraging alcohol consumption with a view of extracting money from those customers.”

Mr Cohen said the “fact of irresponsible supply of alcohol” was “irrefutable”.

It is about as far away from good practice in a licensed premises as possible.

Robert Cohen

He said the customer who spent £50,000 in one night on February 27 2019 had purchased nine litres of champagne and five jager bombs between 3am and 4.53am.

Mr Cohen added: “It is about as far away from good practice in a licensed premises as possible.”

About 15 dancers from the club attended the meeting on Thursday to give representations in support of club’s application to renew its licence.

The club’s director said in a witness statement that “under no circumstances” are customers overcharged, have their drinks spiked or subjected to fraudulent sales practices.

The director, who was not named in the statement, said they did not believe the man who was charged £50,000 was a victim, and was instead “wealthy and entitled”.

A submission from the police commissioner said evidence seen by officers suggests that “vulnerable individuals are pressured into spending large amounts of money” at the premises.

There is also “ample evidence” of “manipulation and pressure selling” which are against the licensing objectives, the submission said.

A spokesperson for SophistiCats said the committee revoked its SEV licence and added it would issue a statement in response on Friday.

In a statement prior to the meeting, a club spokesperson said: “We take all allegations seriously and these claims have been independently investigated and rejected.

“Our clubs are protected by nearly 100 CCTV cameras in each club.”