Guy Ritchie pub's licence under review

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The Independent Online

Guy Ritchie was facing curbs on his social life today as an application began to have his pub licence changed or taken away.

The film director co-owns The Punch Bowl in Mayfair, west London, which has been bombarded with 70 complaints about rowdy drunken crowds over the past 18 months.

City of Westminster Council will consider whether to remove, suspend or change the terms of the venue's licence, which has attracted celebrity customers including singer Justin Timberlake and actor Kevin Spacey.

Ritchie, 41, is one of the pub's directors with Piers Adam, who was at the hearing, and Guy Pelly, a friend of Princes William and Harry.

Three residents were behind the 23-page application to get the licence reviewed: art dealer Alan Hobart, Canadian property tycoon William Shenkman and Meryl Caio.

Their barrister, Leo Charalambides, said: "It has metamorphosised from a ye olde local English pub into something that's really internationally recognised on the A-list party circuit and by those who would like to get some of the glamour of going to such a venue."

Residents have complained about noise levels, broken glass and crowds of up to 150 people spilling out of the pub and drinking in the middle of the road.

They also claim that some revellers urinate against their houses and that rubbish left out by the venue staff has caused a rat infestation.

The pub is on a tour bus route and private parties have been held there, including Ritchie's 40th birthday party in September last year, jamming the road with traffic and increasing demand for an already oversubscribed venue, they maintain.

Mr Charalambides said pub regulars were members of the "leisure classes" who could afford to "cause a nuisance on seven days of the week".

He claimed the pub hosts live music acts, which Ritchie has mentioned in press interviews, despite not having a licence to do so.

Ward councillor Glenys Roberts told the hearing: "We are absolutely not against pubs. We are not even against the Punch Bowl except that it has changed dramatically in its nature since the old historic building and activities that we were all familiar with before."

Representing the pub, Julian Skeen said Ritchie would have liked to be at today's hearing but was busy working on his new film.

He said: "He very much wanted to be here, you'll see in the papers that he is thought to be a central figure for these premises."