A COLCHESTER pub which police described as the “heart of a large scale cocaine business” has had its licence to sell alcohol revoked.

Drug dealers unwittingly sold cocaine to undercover police officers at The Leather Bottle in Shrub End who had been deployed there to disrupt the supply of Class A drugs.

According to an Essex Police report, cocaine was used in plain sight and officers deployed to the pub between June and November last year bought drugs several times.

In the report, submitted to Colchester Council ahead of a licensing meeting yesterday, police described the pub as “arguably the heart of a large-scale cocaine supply business”.

The solicitor representing the licence holders, Mr O’Toole, denied staff were involved in illegal activities.

A section of the report read: “The drug dealing was widespread (it took place on each occasion the premises were visited) and conducted in the open.”

Officers also witnessed a fight between eight men using weapons in early July which escalated into three of the men driving at people in the car park.

Later that month, an undercover officer had a conversation with a man who claimed some men had handguns in the waistbands of their trousers in anticipation of more trouble, the report continues.

Mr O’Toole said: “Our client is prepared to implement any new conditions the committee thinks suitable and categorically rejects any members of staff or the licence holders were involved in any illegal activities, such as allowing others to drug deal or commit any acts of violence either on or off the premises.” 

However, the committee decided other options, such as modifying the licence conditions or removing the premises supervisor, would have been insufficient to prevent crime and disorder.

Chairing the meeting, councillor Roger Buston said: “The sub-committee considered the supplementary information that had been provided by Essex Police contained overwhelming evidence suggesting extremely serious criminal activity had been associated with the premises and the sub-committee took the view that the licence holder had either been aware of these activities that were referenced or should have been aware of them.”