A Soho strip club has had its licence suspended after ten customers claimed to have their drinks spiked only to wake up with thousands of pounds missing from their bank accounts.
Vanity Bar and Nightclub on Carlisle Street narrowly avoided being closed down for good after the alleged spikings were reported to police with punters claiming to have lost a combined £250,000.
The venue was closed for three months with 23 “robust” conditions passed down to the venue at a Westminster licensing sub-committee on Monday.
The council stripped manager Lorraine Forman of her title as designated premises supervisor, introduced new CCTV requirements and forced them to agree to annual site visits from police and meetings with residents.
The venue must agree to keep up-to-date incident logs on-site to make a record of drugs seized, customers ejected, any crimes committed, any refusals of alcohol and any visits by emergency services.
Gary Grant, a lawyer representing Vanity, criticised the police investigation claiming that the “vast bulk” of the transactions went to registered companies that had nothing to do with the strip club.
He added the men who visited the venue had simply made up excuses when their wives or girlfriends were pinged by their bank accounts showing what they were up to.
He also argued that the men had lost their money at brothels not inside the strip club.
The most recent claim against Vanity came from a man who “blacked out” at the strip club, which promises on its website a “party that will stay with you for the rest of your life”.
After going for a steak dinner with a friend on November 26 he alleges he went to the bar, ordered a drink and had a dance.
Moments later he was separated from his friend and taken to a separate area where he blacked out soon after.
On waking up on a street close to his home the next day he checked his bank accounts and found several cash transfers to Vanity and an unnamed café totalling £16,000.
A police report into the allegation from PC Steve Muldoon added: “The victim woke up the next day and was in a street near his home address and he subsequently checked Google Maps and found he was at Vanity and then left approximately two hours after arriving.
“He found himself at a location on Google Maps showing a car wash where he was for nearly two and a half hours. He was then dropped near his home. Google Maps has this down as a route he was driven. The victim does not know how he arrived at these locations or how he has returned home.”
Another alleged victim, a married TfL worker, said in his statement to police he remembered buying a beer at Vanity on November 23.
He claimed: “I now from this point have no memory for the rest of the time of being in Vanity.
“My next memory was when I then woke up near to 8am a few roads from my house. I had no clue how I got to there or where I had been.
“It is my belief I had my drink spiked and it is my belief that this occurred inside Vanity. I do not know if this was done by a member of staff or if a dancer did this but I am certain that it occurred.”
He added: “This incident has affected me emotionally and has affected my lifestyle. I no longer want to go out and am anxious even when going somewhere with my wife.”
In total, he claims to have lost around £17,000 in nine fraudulent transactions.
Police reported ten similar incidents of drink spikings and asked Westminster Council for the venue to have its licence suspended.
One window fitter told police he went to the venue after going to a Foals gig in April. He woke up in his hotel corridor with more than £1,500 missing from his joint account with his wife.
Another victim claimed he woke up in a brothel near Hyde Park after visiting the strip club and discovered £98,000 had been transferred from his accounts.
The IT freelancer claimed he found “two needle marks” on his hand.
He added: “I paid for dancers and I was the one that was drugged and then robbed. It is quite clear I was targeted as I was the one that had money and I paid for the dancers.”
One alleged customer got his mother to ring up the strip club and demand an explanation the next day after £5,500 was taken from his account by Vanity nightclub and another unnamed company.
The IT support specialist said: “My mum called the venue to complain and asked to speak to the manager. She was told that they were not there and she has never had a call back.
“I believe I was scammed and spiked at this venue and reported this matter to the police so I could prevent this happening to others.”
Westminster Council officials and Vanity has been approached for comment.
The club denied any wrongdoing.