Dance Academy boss still holds a valid club licence despite four years in jail
THE OWNER of the Dance Academy still retains a licence for the venue, despite spending four years in jail for allowing the sale of class A drugs in the Union Street club.
The Herald has learned that a potential oversight, compounded by a complex legal wrangle between the British Government and the State of Jersey, left Plymouth City Council unable to hold a full licence review.
Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh won the right to appeal against his conviction in January this year following a review of the case by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, set up to review possible miscarriages of justice.
Mr Bahmanzadeh was granted bail last month, in advance of his appeal hearing which is expected to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice later this year.
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He recently told The Herald his intention was to see the historic building "come alive again" although he did not specifically state he would reopen the former nightclub.
In August 2009 Plymouth City Council's licensing committee was warned it would be in contempt of court if it removed the Dance Academy licence's before Proceeds of Crime proceedings had been completed.
However, according to Home Office minister Crispin Blunt, Mr Bahmanzadeh had paid the £1m order "in full" by the end of June 2011.
Mr Bahmanzadeh won his right to appeal on January 26, 2012.
Devon and Cornwall Police have told The Herald that between June 2011 and January 26, 2012 "there was no requirement upon the Constabulary to inform Plymouth City Council that the confiscation proceedings had been finalised as they already had this information to hand."
The Herald has now learned Plymouth City Council was not officially informed the Proceeds of Crime proceedings were completed, leaving it unable to hold the licensing review hearing.
The club licence would allow music to be played and alcohol to be sold on the premises.
A council spokesman said: "Mr Bahmanzadeh currently holds a licence for the Dance Academy.
"The police called for a review of this licence around the same time as their criminal investigation, but the licensing committee adjourned this review pending the outcome of various court proceedings.
"Due to Proceeds of Crime issues, the review can not yet legally be completed, therefore we need to wait until this issue has been resolved by the court. "We are currently waiting for more information from the police."
When alerted to the statements by police, and Home Office minister Crispin Blunt, the spokesman then added: "The licensing committee is a quasi-judicial one and there is a formal process between the committee, our licensing team and the police licensing department as well as the applicants.
"We cannot initiate or renew proceedings until we have formal notification from the police licensing team. We have not yet received this.
"We are also not in a position to give further detail on particular cases as, like in any court case, this could prejudice any subsequent hearing by the committee when it meets to discuss the matter."