In many ways what follows is a case study in what many feel to be the somewhat distorted priorities of current law enforcement. Those who are trying their best to uphold the law and make a small error get clobbered, while those who seem more intent on crime and commit far worse offences seem to emerge from the system relatively unscathed. This is an extract from a letter to John Reid from the Managing Director of McMullens Breweries...
"The first incident I refer to is the ‘sting’ operation at the Lord Kitchener in Barnet, a well run pub with a good reputation locally. Last summer it was deemed to be a law enforcement priority of resources to send into this pub two young persons who appeared to be over 21 but were in fact only 17 to see whether or not they could succeed in being served an alcoholic drink. Our barman thought that one of them was underage and refused to serve him. The other he decreed to be of legal age. An error of judgement in a pub which generally caters for middle aged customers. Clearly I cannot defend serving alcohol to 17 year olds, even if they do look much older but the consequence of this charade was an £80 ‘on the spot’ fine for a decent young man - the sort of person who we should all be encouraging to make his career in this industry. In addition we as the premises licence holder along with the Designated Premises Licence holder were taken to court and prosecuted at great cost to both the tax payer and to my company. I am glad to say that we were both acquitted.
"The second incident occurred on Friday 9th December, 2006 at the Fishery, Elstree a destination food pub in the country. A middle aged male customer who appeared to be drunk was refused service as were his friends in the same party who tried to buy drinks for him. The response from this group was terrifying for both our team and our other customers. They were not only abusive to, but assaulted three of our staff, two of whom were young waitresses. They proceeded to throw brass bar trays across the bar smashing glassware and bottles of wine on the back bar and badly bruising two members of my team. When they heard that the police were being called they fled. This group were known to the manager as they are employed by a local company. In response to our manager advising a director of the company that the matter was being dealt with by the police two of this group volunteered themselves at the local police station. Staggeringly the punishment for their crime was a caution! One can only speculate on the action the police would have taken against my team if they had discovered that these people had been served more alcohol – almost certainly not a caution!
"I hope these two recent examples of incidents which are far from ‘one offs’ help to highlight how far we have gone in this country to redefine the principles of justice let alone advertise our law enforcement priorities. I find it incredible that you encourage your police force to commit resources to entrapping, and fining honest hard working pub employees who make an error of judgement but take no action against a person who admits to assault and criminal damage. Interestingly you will also know that underage persons who actually manage to con their way into purchasing alcohol are rarely if ever fined or prosecuted!
"I am sure your opinion polls are beginning to tell you that honest hard working people are increasingly concerned by our political elite as more and more examples of this sort of ludicrous behaviour by the state comes to light.
"I feel bound to write to someone and have chosen you, not because I think it will result in any change to your political priorities, although I hope it will, but I have a duty to my team to ‘do something’.
"How do you expect this industry to attract and keep the quality people we need when on the one hand we are constantly undermined by both our politicians and their law enforcement agencies and on the other hand we are not supported when assaulted by the scum in our society?"