An East London cocktail bar where a group of teens were drinking for “six hours” and were sexually harassed by men has been allowed to stay open.

Earlier this week the Cocktail Club in Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, had its licence reviewed by Tower Hamlets Council’s licensing sub committee following police concerns that staff working at the time of the incident “spotted clearly underage girls who were drunk and vulnerable” and did not offer them support.

According to PC Michael Rice of Central East Police Licensing, police were called to a separate bar in Shoreditch in December 2022 following reports of a group of young girls who had their drink spiked and collapsed.

Police later found out the group had been drinking at the Cocktail Club for around six hours and were so drunk and intoxicated, one girl had thrown up inside the bar.

Officers then submitted a licence review to Tower Hamlets Council as they did not believe the venue was upholding its licensing objectives of protection of children from harm and prevention of crime and disorder.

Officers said the Cocktail Club “allowed a group of young people including two 16-year-old girls to come into the venue to buy and drink alcohol” and that it wasn’t the only isolated incident involving underage drinking.

PC Rice said in a council document: “While investigating how this was able to happen at a license premises we have discovered that drunken fights and disorder have taken place at the Cocktail Club and the venue, with most seriously a number of sexual harassment allegations made by female customers.

“We also believe that other young people under 18 have been let into the venue and served alcohol.”

After the incident, Dawn Donohoe, managing director of the London Cocktail Club Ltd, which owns the bar, said she had sacked a total of six members of staff – including two managers – and had also gotten rid of security staff which had been hired through a subcontractor.

Ms Donohoe had met with police and provided a detailed action plan which included the introduction of an ID scanner.

During a Tower Hamlets Council licensing meeting on Tuesday (April 11), Ms Donohoe said: “I have run many successful venues –  licence premises for 30 years.

“I then decided to put a very, very strong team together to run the site in Canary Wharf [as] it is a busy, successful premises and I put better trained, more experienced operators in place and changed the security company.”

She added: “We revised all [of] our policies, all [of] our training material and the way we train to ensure that when we train the team, they have taken in everything we have trained [them on] and to ensure that the premises is run very well and safely from here on.”

A follow-up visit on New Year’s Eve revealed “no concerns” and the council’s licensing sub committee were happy with the steps that had been taken to clamp down on underage drinking.

During multiple compliance visits, customers were asked for their ID before entry while staff at the bar were asking customers for ID instead of just relying on door staff.

After the sub committee heard from the Cocktail Club and had finished asking questions, the meeting was adjourned and the sub committee deliberated in a private session.

The sub committee decided to grant the application for review and added a number of new conditions to the licence including keeping a record of all refused sales of booze and dedicated welfare officers who can tend to customers in future incidents.

A spokesperson for the Cocktail Club later told the LDRS: “Incidents like this are taken extremely seriously and we have worked closely with the Met police over the last few months to make sure that we have done everything possible to ensure that this will not happen again.

“As well as extensive training, we have implemented ID scanners which will immediately highlight any fake ID and ensure that there are always phone chargers available for our customer’s safety, spiking test kits, a welfare guardian in each venue at all times and a blanket zero tolerance of bad behaviour. We will continue to drive this culture of safety throughout our business and welcome the support of the police, the local council and our customers.”