South London club loses licence after woman ‘raped’ while venue was supposed to be shut

Club 701 in Bermondsey’s Old Kent Road (Google Street View)

Detectives are investigating an alleged rape inside a south London club.

The incident occurred at Club 701 on the Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, in the early hours of January 2, it is claimed.

Councillors last week voted to strip the venue of its licence after hearing from police that the venue was not supposed to be open when the alleged offence took place.

A force spokesperson said that a 41-year-old man was arrested in connection in late January, but he has since been bailed pending further enquiries.

In a submission to Southwark Council, officers said an “extremely serious” incident had occurred, writing: “The alleged offence took place in a licensed premises that at the time was operating without the correct authorisation, by way of a premises licence or a temporary event notice.

“This offence would not have occurred had the premises been closed as per the current authorisation.”

Asked for further details, a Met Police spokesperson said: “A woman reported she had been raped inside the venue.

“A 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of rape on 29 January and has been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in late April.

“Enquiries into the circumstances continue.”

At an earlier hearing, a representative for the club said that it was believed it could open as January 1 was a bank holiday, adding staff had been unaware of any serious crime at the event.

The club said that closure would have a “devastating” impact on staff.

Officers also raised concerns about a string of separate incidents at the venue, including an “serious assault” inside the venue in November 2019 which caused the licence to be suspended.

Councillors also heard that police received “credible” intelligence that a planned night last month at Club 701 “would be attended by individuals associated with gangs and would commit serious violence”.

The event was voluntarily cancelled by the club.

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