Liquor licence refused

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2013

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A former drug baron's plan to open a steakhouse featuring live burlesque shows has been put on ice.

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority has refused a liquor licence application for a proposed new venue called Cotton Club & Butchery in Harewood Rd, Papanui.

James Samson - married to Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou - and two business partners applied to the Christchurch City Council for a liquor licence under the company B L Group 2013 Ltd.

Police, residents, the local reverend and the Canterbury medical officer of health opposed it.

Its application said it would be a high-class steak restaurant showcasing jazz bands and burlesque dancers, operating at the site of the former Club 22.

The controversial nightclub closed indefinitely after the authority last year refused to renew its licence.

The decision said the authority had "considerable sympathy" for Samson who, since being released from prison where he spent five years for methamphetamine charges, had "endeavoured to conduct himself well . . . and provide for his family as best he may".

"No criticism can be levelled at him in this regard," it said.

In 1999, Samson was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and in 2004 was convicted of methamphetamine supply and manufacture. In 2005, he was convicted of two charges of perverting the course of justice.

"The evidence indicates that he is unlikely to offend in a similar way in the future," the authority found.

It said police believed he "seems inherent in his continued involvement with doubtful persons" and said Samson, at times, "engaged [with police] in intimidatory conduct".

The authority said the proposed prices at The Cotton Club would deter people under 25 but "nevertheless the type of clientele would probably be that as described by [police]".

"[High-vis] tradesmen who are working in the rebuild of Christchurch and who have money to throw around.

"They have the reputation of being big drinkers and big spenders, and can be expected to pose operational problems for the licensee of these premises."

Samson yesterday said he was disappointed in the outcome but said the decision was "not a loss for me personally".

"It's pleasing to have been given credit for the way I've been living in recent years."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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