A popular pub was ordered to shut its doors after an undercover council investigator pleaded with staff to allow him to use cash to buy a pint.
Bosses at Richmond Council have drawn heavy criticism over the incident at The Waterman Arms in Barnes, South-West London, which occurred before the second national lockdown was
It is understood that the investigator asked to be served with a takeaway drink, but bar manager Adam Sanford initially declined, explaining that lockdown rules meant all customers had to order and pay online.
According to the pub’s landlord Dick Morgan, the official begged Mr Sanford to relent, saying he was unable to access the internet because his mobile phone had run out of power.
Mr Sanford eventually took pity and agreed to sell a pint for cash but when he returned with the drink, the licensing officer pulled out his badge to reveal his true identity.
Days later, the pub received a ‘prohibition notice’ banning the sale of drinks through their ‘click and collect’ service for the remainder of the lockdown period. Its delivery service was allowed to continue.
Last night, Mr Morgan condemned the ‘sting’ operation which he estimates cost him £7,000 in business. ‘What Richmond Council did is called entrapment,’ he said.
‘The officer is on CCTV begging Adam for a drink and Adam is saying, ‘No, sorry sir, you can’t.’
‘They created a situation where a crime was committed because of their actions. It’s disgusting and disgraceful that a council would act like this. They are acting like some sort of Covid stasi.’
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The Waterman Arms dates back to the 1850s and was a favourite haunt of the boatmen who ferried passengers back and forth across the Thames.
It was converted into a restaurant during the 1980s until Mr Morgan took it over in recent years.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who has taken up Mr Morgan’s cause, said: ‘Whoever authorised this operation, they should be sacked – that’s how strongly I feel about it.’
Richmond council defended their actions and said they had received complaints from local residents about customers gathering opposite the pub to drink.