A Woodford Green restaurant that defied Covid-19 restrictions in at least 13 incidents with illegal club nights has had its licence revoked.

In its determination to revoke the licence for Melin, in Chigwell Road, licensing sub-committee chairwoman Cllr Namreen Chaudhry (Lab, Goodmayes) said owner Ali Melin "has operated these premises with complete disregard for
the safety of his staff, customers and the public at large".

She added: "He has repeatedly failed to implement any social distancing measures or insist on mask wearing."

Mr Melin did not hand over CCTV footage on multiple visits from the police and council enforcement officers when there were as many as 170 people inside.

On November 3, the same day that police attended and found the doors locked and the windows blacked out, the restaurant posted a video on Instagram showing about 100 people dancing and what appears to be the voice of Mr Melin shouting about ignoring the lockdown.

At the licensing meeting Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) said: “I wish to call (Melin Chigwell) a nightclub because that’s how they were operating. I believe a premises of this size with over 100 people inside is a Covid-19 factory.

“The way in which Melin has been run demonstrates that the owner is not in a position to act responsibly, and is unlikely to change.”

Police representative Charles Holland said that, after months of events posted on Instagram, police were calling for the licence to be revoked.

Mr Holland criticised not only Mr Melin’s “grim determination” to “maximise his revenue” but also his social media posts “revelling in the illegality of what’s going on”.

A total of 13 incidents which were of concern to the police were presented in the meeting ranging from May 10 through November 3.

On November 3, it took 10 minutes before police were able to gain entry and when they arrived, they found the doors, including fire doors, locked and the windows blacked out, as more than 100 people partied inside.

On January 17, Mr Melin shared an Italian post to his Instagram encouraging people to ignore lockdown restrictions.

In the decision Cllr Chaudhry said: "We find that Mr Ali has no intention to operate the premises in a lawful manner. His failure to comply with the existing licensing conditions or pay any heed to previous regulatory intervention leaves us with no option but to revoke the licence."