City centre bar has licence revoked after stabbing

A Liverpool city centre bar linked to a brawl in which a promising young boxer was stabbed is set to be stripped of its licence.

During a Boxing Day event at The Safe House bar on Victoria Street, a large fight broke out in the street outside. Shortly before 5.30am on 27 December, up-and-coming boxer Anthony Dodson was taken to hospital after being stabbed.

Having fought for his life, the promising athlete’s condition is now said to be improving. 

As a result of the disorder, Liverpool Council moved quickly to temporarily suspend The Safe House’s licence after a request by Merseyside Police. The authority’s licensing and gambling sub-committee has now decided it will revoke the licence entirely following a lengthy hearing.

The Safe House will now have the chance to appeal the decision.

Alongside Mr Dodson, three other men also suffered serious injuries, including a 21-year-old who was stabbed in the back and a 23-year-old who suffered lacerations to his head after being struck with a glass or bottle. A 20-year-old man was later traced who had also suffered lacerations to the head.

A total of seven men have been charged to date in connection with the incident. 

On Wednesday, 24 January, a three-person panel at Liverpool Town Hall agreed to remove the business’ permission to sell alcohol after hearing evidence from Merseyside Police and owner Meshach Harris. The initial review was instigated by the force owing to the bar’s potential association “with serious crime and disorder”.

Mr Harris has the right to appeal the decision through the magistrates’ court within 21 days. The licence being removed will not be enforced until the end of any appeal process.

It will remain suspended until such a decision is reached.

Last month, members of the local authority’s licensing and gambling sub-committee moved to put a temporary halt on trading ahead of the hearing as it was suggested by force officials that there were “no conditions that will allay the fear that further serious violence will take place and the threat to public safety, due to the possible risk of a retaliatory attack at the premises.”

The committee has not been satisfied this will change under the current circumstances.

Under its terms granted in 2022, The Safe House had been permitted to open and sell alcohol on the premises from 10am to 4am daily. December’s hearing was told Merseyside Police attended the premises at 5.40am on 27 December, it was still open and there were approximately 50 customers inside – despite a terminal hour of 4am.

Mr Harris is also the licence holder at Dreamers lap dancing bar in the same building.  He was awarded terms last April for the venue after the original licence lapsed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The revocation of the licence at the Safe House will not impact any other business. Karl Barry, licensing agent on behalf of Mr Harris, said an appeal is to be lodged and he had written to the city’s head of licensing regarding the process of yesterday’s hearing.

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