Artist evicted from Portsmouth’s Arts Lodge is stripped of his licence by council and tells them: ‘I don’t really care. I seek justice and that is all’

A PORTSMOUTH artist who was convicted of assaulting two police officers has had his licence revoked by the council.

The leader of the former Lodge Arts Centre and Park Cafe, Mark Lewis, will no longer be allowed to sell alcohol following Tuesday’s decision made by councillors on the licensing sub-committee.

Mark Lewis, founder of The Arts Lodge & Park Cafe.

Mark Lewis, founder of The Arts Lodge & Park Cafe.

Mr Lewis appeared in court last year after his protests against eviction from the lodge in November led to his arrest. Portsmouth City Council had informed Mr Lewis that the centre's lease was going to expire, however, he refused to leave the premises.

Although the judge ruled he was not guilty of attacking the officers with a table and a mop she did conclude that he did 'recklessly' assault them. He was ordered to pay £200 compensation to one of the police officers and complete 120 hours of community service which he didn't finish due to his health. Instead he paid a further £300 to the court.

At the meeting Mark Lewis defended his actions. He said: 'The centre was my whole life's dream. I had been running it for 17 years before the incident. When somebody tries to take it and ruin your dreams obviously it puts you in a predicament.

'The judge said that I had acted recklessly, not violently. They proved I did not hit the police with a table or a mop. I wasn't violent even under those extreme circumstances.'

The eviction at the Arts Lodge in February last year Picture: JCD Photographic

The eviction at the Arts Lodge in February last year Picture: JCD Photographic

Mr Lewis' licence was used to sell alcohol at the lodge which he no longer does following the eviction.

He added: 'I don't really care if you take my licence away. I would only need it for when I take over the lodge or another premises again.

'I think justice will prevail. I hope you see it in your hearts to see what is common sense. I am not a violent man, I seek justice and that is all.'

But when asked why he didn't appeal against the charges of assaulting police officers Mr Lewis said: 'I'd wasted enough of my time and it's a badge of honour if anything.'

Cllr Hannah Hockaday was unsure if Mr Lewis should keep his licence. She said: 'I understand you're passionate about the Lodge. But going forward you said "I don't care if my licence is taken away." I am trying to understand that.

'And we have to ask are you a fit and proper person to go ahead with the licence. Holding grudges the way you do makes me wonder how respectful you will be.'

Although his licence was revoked, Mr Lewis has the option to appeal the decision or re-apply for a licence.