Restaurant which hosted Rita Ora’s lockdown party avoids having licence revoked

The restaurant which hosted Rita Ora’s lockdown 30th birthday party has avoided having its licence revoked.

Kensington and Chelsea Council has said Casa Cruz in Notting Hill, west London, will instead have its licence suspended for six weeks following a review.

The Metropolitan Police had urged the local authority to take away the restaurant’s licence following the incident in November last year.

Rita Ora lockdown breach birthday
Rita Ora (Lauren Hurley/PA)

A statement from the council’s licensing sub-committee said: “The committee recognised that 44 representations have been received from local residents.

“Many of the supporters urged the committee not to revoke the licence because they considered that the restaurant is a valuable community asset.

“Residents felt more secure with its presence and the doorman in the street, and some of the 39 people employed at the restaurant were local people.

“The committee did not receive any representations from residents supporting the revocation of the licence.”

Charles Holland, a lawyer representing the police at last month’s hearing, previously told the committee: “The incident on the night was one of the most egregious, and certainly the most notorious, breaches of the regulations committed on licensed premises.”

Rita Ora lockdown breach birthday
The Casa Cruz restaurant in Notting Hill, west London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He added Ora “selfishly wished to flout the lockdown” by seeking to pay for access to the Casa Cruz restaurant in Clarendon Road.

The pop star has previously apologised for her “spur of the moment” decision to throw the celebration, which broke Covid rules, on November 28 last year.

Among the guests were model Cara Delevingne and her sister Poppy, according to police.

In a summary of its decision, the licensing sub-committee said the restaurant had initially arranged to supply food to Ora’s home.

But on the day of the party, paparazzi started to gather outside her home and a representative asked the manager and designated premises supervisor, Scottie Bhattarai, if the event could take place at the restaurant for £5,000.

Watch: Rita Ora birthday party 'egregious and notorious lockdown breach'

The money offered was never received and Mr Bhattarai has since been sacked by the venue.

Nicholas Fallows, director of the restaurant, did not know the party was taking place and the agreement to host it was struck solely with Mr Bhattarai, documents said.

Mr Bhattarai previously told officers that “security for the entourage” wanted no footage of them arriving so he turned the CCTV off between 6pm and 6.30pm.

The committee said 44 representations had been received from local residents voicing their support for Casa Cruz, including a ward councillor and the chair of the local residents’ association.

It said those residents had said the venue had become “an important valuable community asset”.

Police investigations into the event remain ongoing and may lead to other actions being taken.

Ora recently travelled to Australia to appear as a coach on The Voice television show.

Under current Covid-19 restrictions in the UK, travelling abroad is banned without a legally permitted reason, for example some forms of work.

A statement from Mr Fallows, on behalf of Casa Cruz, said: “We are grateful for the council’s careful consideration of our case and will comply with all the additional conditions on the premises licence. We look forward to serving our customers and community as soon as we are permitted to reopen.”

The restaurant was represented by barrister Gary Grant.

Watch: Police Raid London Nail Salon and Customers Suspected of Breaching Lockdown Rules