AN ALCOHOL licence has been reissued to a Chinese restaurant, two months after police raided the building and found an illegal karaoke club operating upstairs.
Portsmouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee granted the licence to Yue Xu, manager of Twins Chinese Hot Pot Restaurant in Albert Road, Southsea.
Police raided the restaurant in March and found three unlicenced karaoke booths were being used upstairs.
Mr Xu hid in the toilet for 90 minutes while the officers forced their way in and searched the building.
Officers found the first floor ‘full of people’ drinking ‘an awful lot of iced tea’.
Several bottles of Chivas Regal whisky were found in bin liners.
Mr Xu’s solicitor William Ashton said a large group of Chinese students were using the karaoke suites on the night of the raid.
Mr Ashton said: ‘They were in high spirits as they’d just finished term and were about to go home.’
Mr Ashton said Mr Xu hid in the toilet because people in China often have a legitimate reason to fear the authorities.
He said: ‘Mr Xu is a person of good character who made a foolish mistake on a serious matter of allowing the karaoke machines to be used.
‘It’s also important to note that the karaoke booths were soundproofed and it didn’t cause a disturbance to the public.’
Subcommittee member Councillor Ken Ellcombe said: ‘It does concern me somewhat when police have to force entry to a premises and the owner is found hiding in a toilet.
‘That’s not normal behavior.’
The licence was reissued on the condition that Mr Xu was not longer the designated premises supervisor.
The police also imposed a list of 10 conditions, including that CCTV cameras at the restaurant be updated and that a staff logbook be kept.
The karaoke booths have now been removed from the restaurant.
The restaurant has been open since the raid operating on temporary licences.