May 21, 2001 17:00

GATECRASHER BOSS HITS BACK

Managing director Simon Raine claims the raid is being used by police as a lever to introduce charges for policing at clubs...

GATECRASHER BOSS HITS BACK
The boss of GATECRASHER nightclub has told NME.COM that he believes police used Saturday night's (May 19) drugs raid as a lever to introduce charges for policing at clubs in SHEFFIELD.

And he said the club's organisers are "shocked and stunned" at the number of officers deployed and the amount of drugs seized.

Speaking after a press conference at Sheffield Hilton this afternoon (May 21), Simon Raine, managing director of Gatecrasher, emphasised that Republic, the venue for the club, is still open for business as usual and Gatecrasher will take place there next Saturday as normal.

And he also reiterated that Gatecrasher Summer Sound System will go ahead at Turweston Park in Oxfordshire as planned on June 16, with Mos Def having just been added to the bill.

But he expressed dismay that the police chose to make such a dramatic gesture - deploying 160 officers in riot gear and ejecting all 800 clubbers from the premises as they made 13 arrests and seized a quantity of pills, powders and substances.

"I was pretty shocked really, quite stunned at the number of officers and that they carried out the raid with such vigour and force. We are also shocked at the amount of drugs found in the club."

But he continued: "We feel South Yorkshire police are making a political statement. At their press conference yesterday, they launched quite an aggressive attack on the entertainment industry." He vehemently denied accusations by Chief Inspector Martin Hemmingway that the club was "paying lip service" to drugs policies, saying Gatecrasher have a "zero tolerance" drugs policy, enforcing strict drug searches, used CCTV, their own security and metal detectors.

He added: "They also stated that the 20 clubs and places of entertainment with 2am licences in Sheffield are a serious drain on police resources. We feel the motivation behind the raid - on a big, high-profile, award-winning club - was to try and get nightclubs to pay for policing. We agree with that, and if they had mentioned it we would have said yes. We think it's a good idea and if there is any way we can make clubs safer and stop drugs getting in then we will."

But he pointed out: "I think it's fair to say we are two weeks before a General Election. They are sending a message out politically. There are motives." He also suggested that the timing of the reintroduction of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which means that club promoters and owners can be jailed if people are found using drugs on their premises, was a political move.

He said representatives of the club will be meeting with police on Friday to discuss how to move forward.

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