The Metropolitan Police have said Rita Ora’s 30th birthday party was an “egregious and notorious” breach of lockdown rules.
Back in November, the singer hosted a group of friends at a restaurant in London’s Notting Hill for her birthday, despite social gatherings being prohibited in England at the time.
After facing backlash, the pop star apologised for the “spur of the moment” decision to celebrate, and paid a fine to police for the breach.
At a Kensington and Chelsea Council licensing sub-committee hearing on Thursday, the police urged the local authority to revoke the licence of the restaurant where the party was held.
According to the Irish Independent, the police’s lawyer Charles Holland said: “The incident on the night was one of the most egregious, and certainly the most notorious, breaches of the regulations committed on licensed premises.”
Charles added that Rita “selfishly wished to flout the lockdown”, and that the council should send a “strong and clear message to the hospitality trade and to the wider public” about breaching the Covid rules.
Gary Grant, representing the restaurant, claimed the plans to attend the restaurant were made last minute, after photographers showed up outside the home where the gathering was due to take place.
He told the council: “This was going to be a dining-at-home experience in a very close associate of Ms Ora’s and my client… was doing the catering for it, for home.”
“The paparazzi turned up outside the home where the party was going to take place.
“There was a panicked phone call in the afternoon, I believe, of the 28th from a close associate of Ms Ora,” he explained, adding the associate asked “in desperation” if the party could be held at the restaurant instead.
Ian Davis from the Metropolitan Police said: “These are unprecedented times, with the continued loss of life, sickness, various sacrifices and economic hardship that this country is facing.
“On a daily basis grim milestones are being met in relation to this pandemic,” he added, urging the committee to revoke the restaurant’s license.
“A clear message to the hospitality industry in their vicarious responsibilities needs to be met in relation to premises who risk operating during these national lockdowns to deter and discourage the public from organising such events as no-one is above the law and all will be held accountable,” Ian said.
General manager of the restaurant Scott Bhattarai gave a statement on December 1, explained representatives of Rita called him at about 5:30pm on the evening of the gathering asking to use the venue for “drinks and nibbles”.
Scott claimed he was offered £5,000 to facilitate the event, and apologised in his witness statement for being “greedy”.
He also told police that “security for the entourage” wanted no footage of the guests arriving, so he turned the CCTV off between 6-6.30pm.
Scott told the police that about seven or eight guests arrived at 7pm, and that by 9pm there was about 17 guests, who the police said included models Poppy and Cara Delevinge.
The committee was told Scott has since been sacked from his job at the restaurant, with the restaurant’s lawyer Gary telling the council the £5k fee for the use of the venue was not paid.
Taking to her Instagram Stories to address the backlash at the time, Rita wrote: “Hello all, I attended a small gathering with some friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.
“It was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK…”
“I’m deeply sorry for breaking the rules and in turn understand that this puts people at risk.
“This was a serious and inexcusable error of judgement. Given the restrictions, I realise how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility,” she continued.
“I feel particularly embarrassed knowing first-hand how hard people have worked to combat this terrible illness and being fully aware of the sacrifices that people and businesses have made to help keep us all safe.
“Even though this won’t make it right, I want to sincerely apologise.”
Goss.ie have contacted a rep for Rita Ora for comment.