Rita Ora party: Police call for restaurant licence to be revoked after 'notorious' lockdown breach
Tap above to watch video report by Chloe Keedy
Rita Ora’s 30th birthday party in a restaurant was an “egregious and notorious” breach of lockdown rules, according to the police.
The pop star has previously apologised for her “spur of the moment” decision to throw a celebration which broke Covid rules on November 28 last year.
At a Kensington and Chelsea Council licencing sub-committee hearing on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police urged the local authority to revoke the licence of the west London restaurant where the party had been held.
Charles Holland, a lawyer representing the police, said: “The incident on the night was one of the most egregious, and certainly the most notorious, breaches of the regulations committed on licensed premises.”
He added that Ora “selfishly wished to flout the lockdown” by seeking to pay for access to the Casa Cruz restaurant in Clarendon Road.
Mr Holland added the council should send a “strong and clear message to the hospitality trade and to the wider public” about rule breaches of this kind.
A deterrent needs to be sent “locally and nationally”, Mr Holland said.
Pc Ian Davis of the Metropolitan Police also urged the committee to revoke the restaurant’s licence.
“These are unprecedented times with the continued loss of life, sickness, various sacrifices and economic hardship that this country is facing,” he said.
“On a daily basis grim milestones are being met in relation to this pandemic.
“A clear message to the hospitality industry in their vicarious responsibilities needs to be met in relation to premises who risk operating during these national lockdowns to deter and discourage the public from organising such events as no one is above the law and all will be held accountable.”
He added police are risking their safety and that of their families by responding to coronavirus breaches.
Scott Bhattarai, who is described as the general manager of the restaurant at the time of the party in council documents, previously gave a statement to police on December 1 and said he had allowed the restaurant to be used.
According to the documents, which were previously released by the council, he said Ora’s representatives called him on his personal mobile phone at about 5.30pm on the day of the party and told him they wanted to use the venue for “drinks and nibbles”.
Mr Bhattarai said the representatives offered £5,000 and that most staff were on furlough so he went to Casa Cruz to “facilitate the event”.
He subsequently apologised for being “greedy” in his witness statement.
Today Home Secretary Priti Patel said celebrities should think "very, very hard" about their actions, and ignoring coronavirus rules was simply "wrong".
The group arrived at 7pm with seven or eight guests, he said, though by 9pm there were about 17 people, he told police.
They included model Cara Delevingne and her sister Poppy, according to police.
Mr Bhattarai told police “security for the entourage” wanted no footage of them arriving so he turned the CCTV off between 6pm-6.30pm.
Mr Bhattarai has since been sacked by the restaurant, the committee was told.
During the hearing Mr Holland and Pc Davis were asked about fines that were given to attendees of the party and the policeman said, while four people were reported for coronavirus rule breaches, he could not disclose details about any fines that may have been issued.
The committee will announce their decision on Casa Cruz’s licencing review at a later date.