Portsmouth takeaway’s bid for 3am licence kicked out after policeman ordered £1.99 portion of chips after hours

Ali Baba kebab house in North End, Portsmouth
Ali Baba kebab house in North End, Portsmouth

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A TAKEAWAY’S bid to sell hot food through the night has been kicked out after a police officer was sold a £1.99 ‘medium portion of chips’ when it shouldn’t have been open.

Ali Baba Kebab House, in North End, Portsmouth, applied to stay open until 3am after being told by authorities it was breaking the law and trading after its agreed closing time – 12.30am.

Too much has come into his life, his mother passed away and suddenly he became very unwell and was in the emergency department during that Christmas Day.

Gulzamir Saddiqui, acting on behalf of Mr Yaqubi

It comes after Ken’s Kebab House in Guildhall Walk was caught serving chips after hours and stripped of its late-night food licence.

City licensing officials heard how PC Pete Rackham drove past Ali Baba, in London Road, at 3.04am on November 22 and spotted it was open, before going in to buy chips and reporting the breach of its licence to the council. The officer documented his experience in a report.

The incident, combined with others where the takeaway had traded illegally and pointed out flaws in the way it was being managed, prompted the council to reject its application to stay open for longer. The issues could also spark a review into whether its licence should be taken away.

PC Rackham said: ‘We gave them a chance in that we treated this as an isolated incident, but it has been going on for a while and they have been breaking the law.’

It was said Ali Baba owner, Azizullah Yaqubi, had ‘struggled’ to keep up the business and was rocked by the death of his mother in Afghanistan.

Gulzamir Saddiqui, acting on behalf of Mr Yaqubi, said: ‘Mr Yaqubi cannot deny that some operational working at 50 London Road, has not been supported by his late-night refreshment licence, but wants the following to be taken into account and sends his sincere apology.

‘Since taking operation of 50 London Road, from the previous tenant, Mr Yaqubi has struggled to manage his business, mainly because of unpaid bills from the previous operator.

‘Soon after Mr Yaqubi agreed to take over the tenancy of the premises, Mr Yaqubi’s mother died in March 2016.

‘In accordance with Muslim custom, Mr Yaqubi had to immediately return to Afghanistan and remain there for a minimum of 40 days, returning in July 2016.’

Mr Saddiqui said Mr Yaqubi needed treatment for a growth in August and was rushed into hospital on Christmas Day morning, which meant ‘he had to rely on his business being managed by his employee’.

Mr Saddiqui added: ‘Too much has come into his life, his mother passed away and suddenly he became unwell and was in the emergency department during that Christmas Day.’

‘It is his first time in business, and does not have that much experience.’

Committee chairwoman Cllr Julie Bird asked if Mr Yaqubi could prove he would not allow his staff to serve beyond 3am. His representative said people could ‘check online’ the opening hours of the restaurant – but could not provide any further evidence.

In separate incidents on December 16 and 17, PC Rackham said he drove by at around 2am and noticed ‘a bed sheet’ had been put up in the window and the inside light was on.

He said he wasn’t convinced by claims online food services Just Eat and hungryhouse had wrongly advertised the takeaway as being open until 4.30am, when it should be closed by 12.30am.

PC Rackham said: ‘It’s quite clear that Just Eat or hungryhouse wouldn’t just make up a time you trade until.

‘They ask, what time will you trade until, and surely Mr Yaqubi must have said, “I will operate until 4.30am”.

‘We are also concerned about the lack of detail in the application.

‘This is a premises that wants to trade until 3am, in an area with licensed premises, in an area, that has incidents of crime and disorder, and if you get the licence as it stands, there’s nothing that minimises the risk of crime and disorder emanating from that premises.’