The Derby Telegraph’s Chris Mallett, pictured left, was ejected from the Derby City Council meeting while CCTV footage was shown which police claim links a bar to a serious assault in which a man had three teeth knocked out.
Members of the authority’s general licensing sub committee were discussing what should happen to the licence of Deez bar, in Derby city centre, when Chris’s ejection took place.
Matthew Greene, representing Derbyshire Constabulary, argued the public – including reporters, but not representatives of Deez – should be barred from that part of the hearing “in the public interest”.
He said the CCTV was part of an ongoing police investigation and that making it public ran the risk of compromising this work.
Chris challenged this on the basis that the council “has an obligation to operate open government”.
He added: “In this case, the public interest in having an open hearing overwhelmingly outweighs any other public interest issues.”
Speaking on behalf of the councillors holding the hearing, a city council legal representative confirmed that the public would have to leave while the CCTV was played, saying: “There is a matter of witness protection in this case.”
Chris said he would not go unless formally ejected from Friday’s meeting. He was then removed, before being later allowed back in.
The bar’s management has strongly denied the allegations made by police.
Chris told HTFP: “The logic behind councillors barring the public, including the media, from the hearing is reasonable.
“They did not want to set a precedent for the public being able to come in and view material, in this case CCTV footage, sensitive to an ongoing investigation.
“It is, however, the case that, to my knowledge, the only members of the public in that hearing were myself and the daughter of the relevant bar’s licence holder.
“I wonder if, in those circumstances, it should have been possible for the police to trust that we would not have included information in our story that could have jeopardised the case?”