Conditions added to Chingford pub licence after ‘gun’ post on Facebook

A Chingford publican had his licence altered after posting a photo on Facebook of him holding what looked like a handgun.

Eamonn Doran took over The Dovecote on Friday Hill last year but his relationship with police soured to the point where he briefly banned a local police constable from the pub.

The Metropolitan Police applied to Waltham Forest’s licensing committee to have his licence changed or even revoked, in part due to suspicions he had served alcohol after hours.

The committee determined at a virtual meeting yesterday (April 28) there was no evidence Mr Doran violated his licence but chose to impose the changes suggested.

Mr Doran’s relationship with police allegedly changed when he was accused of selling alcohol after hours during a wedding reception on December 7 last year.

He denied the allegation and agreed to provide CCTV footage, before telling police the CCTV had not been working that night.

In a lengthy statement submitted to the council, Police Constable Darren Brand said after this, Mr Doran “ceased to cooperate with police” and became “highly antagonistic”.

In January, he posted a photo on Facebook of what PC Brand calls “a very realistic looking imitation” handgun, commenting that he had a bullet with an unnamed Irishman’s “name on it”.

PC Brand said: “Police have tried to meet with Eamonn to discuss both these incidents but he has avoided repeated appointments offered. Instead, he sends hostile emails.

“It may be that Eamonn’s attitude might change in response to appropriate conditions being added to the Dovecote license. But if his attitude does not change, then revocation may be the only option.”

Police Sergeant Stuart Murray also wrote to the committee, stating Mr Doran called him on March 9 regarding PC Brand’s investigation of an assault outside the pub earlier that day.

PS Murray wrote: “Mr Doran stated that PC Brand was banned from the pub and he would not let him in.

“He also stated that he had deliberately turned off his CCTV because of the ongoing situation with PC Brand.”

Mr Doran, a publican for around 20 years, took over the Dovecote last year, aiming to make it a “decent family-oriented pub” despite its reputation for drug-use and football hooliganism.

The council was sent a number of submissions from customers stating Mr Doran had indeed improved the pub, formerly known as The Sirloin.

In a statement, Mr Doran explained his change in behaviour was caused by his brother’s untimely death and his mother’s serious illness.

Regarding the Facebook photo, which was posted privately but shared to Spotted Chingford by an unknown person, he said: “With hindsight, I deeply regret my comments and actions regarding my lawfully held air pistol.

“Looking back, I suppose that I use dark humour as something of a coping mechanism… This does not excuse my naivety/foolishness in posting the image and comments.

“If I had known that these would have gone to a wider audience I would never have posted them and will certainly never do anything like that again.”

He apologised for his communication with PC Brand, which he now realised was “too abrupt”, adding: “My history is one of respecting and working with the authorities, especially the police.

“To be honest, I strongly feel that the police should be thanking me for sorting out what was an extremely challenging pub, especially as in order to achieve this change, it has involved actions that have resulted in threats, abuse, and malicious allegations made about me and my pub.”

Waltham Forest’s licensing committee decided Mr Doran will have to close 30 minutes after the sale of alcohol ends.

A member of the management team will also have to meet with police whenever “reasonably requested” and working CCTV must be installed.

However, it noted “there is a lack of evidence” that alcohol was sold after hours and “no evidence” suggesting a serious criminal offence.

Its report adds: “The licensee has been forthcoming and has shown willingness to cooperate with the police and has apologised for his previous behaviour.”

The post on Mr Doran’s Facebook page
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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter