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Hearts/Hibs derby: Police raid pubs for opening early

A LANDLORD has been charged and three others have been given police warnings after officers staged a blitz on Leith pubs which were opening early – illegally – to serve football fans before the derby clash, which kicked off at 12.15pm on Sunday.
A team of 12 officers visited 20 pubs in and around Easter Road in the run-up to the crunch Scottish Cup match to see if any were serving drink before the legal Sunday opening time of 12.30pm.

The first of the pubs caught breaking licenses laws was discovered at 10am.

The planned operation was filmed by police using a camcorder to help gather evidence against publicans serving alcohol outside licensed hours.

The licensee of the Iona Bar on Easter Road, James Colvine, was charged by officers in the wake of the blitz. Another three pubs in the area are set to receive formal warnings from the police licensing section, and a report will be sent to council licensing chiefs.

Police chiefs said the raids on Sunday had launched a new "standard procedure" which would be replicated before future early kick-offs in the Capital.

Hibs supporters discussing the crackdown on fan websites suggested that police may have learned about plans by some pubs to open early from the internet.

One fan, who witnessed a raid, said: "The pub was raided today for letting folk in early for a pint. About 20 or so cops standing outside when we were let out and one of them filming us leaving.

"The rumour going about is that some idiot broadcast the early opening on the internet."

Another Hibs fan, who asked not to be named, said: "It's well-known among fans which pubs serve before early kick-offs on a Sunday. I think everyone thought the police were just turning a blind eye.

"A lot of fans will start drinking as soon as they wake up in the morning, especially before a derby. The pubs can do some good trade and it keeps their regulars happy. It's amazing that they've got away with it for so long."

A police spokesman said: "Officers visited approximately 20 pubs in Edinburgh on Sunday to investigate alleged licensing violations.

"As a result, four premises were found to be serving alcohol prior to 12.30pm and were in breach of their license. One licensee has been charged and three others will receive a formal warning from the police licensing section."

A council spokeswoman said the licensing board would be made aware of Sunday's operation. She added: "By law, public houses must not sell alcohol before 12.30pm on Sundays. The board will consider each request for suspension of a licence on its merits and on the terms of the Chief Constable's report."

When asked about the police visit to the Iona Bar, Mr Colvine said: "No comment".

Taken from the Scotsman

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