Operating without a business licence
London Community News
By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1
London’s Big League Comedy club, whose owner was charged with sexual assault and which permanently lost its liquor licence last month, was open and operating for several months without a business licence, London Community News has learned.
According to the City of London’s business licence department, Big League Comedy Inc. applied for a licence in 2011.
But since the club, which opened last fall and was located at 386 Richmond St., failed to provide paperwork regarding the sprinkler system in the building where the club was located to the city’s fire prevention office, the business licence was not granted.
When told that the club had been operating for several months up until at least early July, a staff member with the city’s business licence department told London Community News the club had therefore been operating illegally.
“They should not be operating.”
The staff member, who asked not to be identified, declined to comment on how the club was able to open and operate without a business licence and why the city did nothing about it.
She said it would be up to the department’s business licence manager, who was not in on Thursday (Aug. 2), to comment on the matter.
A notice dated July 12 on the club’s front door from Cook Steel Enterprises Ltd., the landlord of the building where the club is located, states the club’s lease was terminated because it was in arrears on rent by nearly $8,475.
On July 10, London police announced that the club’s owner, Benjamine Clements, 33, had been arrested and charged with sexual assault following an alleged incident which took place at the club on July 4.
As a result, the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission handed the club an interim suspension of its liquor licence on July 9 and the licensee had 15 days to appeal the suspension to a tribunal.
Because the club’s owners did not request a hearing, the club’s licence was permanently revoked as of July 26.
Lisa Murray, a spokeswoman for the commission, said the club was granted its liquor licence in December of 2011 despite not having a business licence because the commission would have received letters of compliance from the City of London stating the business had fulfilled all the requirements necessary for a liquor licence.
She also said the decision to suspend, and ultimately revoke, the club’s liquor licence was based on the nature of the allegations passed on to the commission from London police.
The commission, Murray added, won’t always issue a suspension of a liquor licence if a criminal charge is brought against a business as each situation is looked at on a case-by-case basis.
In the case of the club, however, specific information from police led the commission’s registrar to issue the licence suspension.
Police said they would not comment further on the allegations against Clements.
Although the club is closed, Big League Comedy is still posting on Twitter and even posted an update to its newsletter Wednesday (Aug. 1).
The charge against Clements has not been proven in court and attempts to reach Clements for comment were unsuccessful.