Ukip holds Christmas party in bar with alleged links to organised crime
The supposedly “law and order” party Ukip has been accused of hypocrisy after holding a Christmas party in Wales at a bar whose licence was challenged by the police because of its alleged links to organised crime.
An invitation posted on social media advertised a party held at Stamps bar in Llanelli on December 17. It said: “A small thank-you to all the protesters who won a battle and stood up for their community. Organised by Ukip Llanelli and Voice of Wales.”
Ukip, together with the far-right group Voice of Wales, participated in a campaign against a Home Office plan to accommodate asylum seekers in the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli. The plan was subsequently withdrawn.
Voice of Wales runs a podcast that is co-hosted by convicted fraudster Dan Morgan and Stan Robinson, another far right activist who has been selected as Ukip’s general election candidate for Llanelli.
Entertainment at the Christmas party was provided by local comedian Tommy G, 34, who had joined the Stradey Park protests and who, under his real name Geraint Thomas, was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years in September 2023 after pleading guilty to the crime of malicious communications. The charge arose out of a video he made that targetted a female police officer with “prolonged” sexist and ageist comments which caused her a significant amount of distress.
In April 2023 Stamps was refused a licence transfer by Carmarthenshire councillors after police said some of the people linked to the bar had criminal convictions, including one – Jordan Perry – who was said to have been the “right hand man” in a major conspiracy to supply cocaine.
After being empty for three years, Stamps re-opened with Ethan Smith as the new leaseholder. The planned reopening received press coverage stating that Jordan Parry would be the bar manager. Another employee, Aaron Coelho, was photographed behind the bar. It was Mr Coelho who applied to have the premises licence transferred from a third party to him and to become the venue’s designated premises supervisor.
Dyfed-Powys Police objected to the granting of a new licence on several grounds. It said Mr Parry was one of nine people who had admitted his part in a conspiracy to supply cocaine in 2020 following a five-month undercover police investigation called Operation Elegant. Police said the Class A drug – more than 2kg of which was seized – was transported between Swansea, Pontarddulais and Llanelli.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported at the time of the trial how Sergeant Ben Ashton had told Carmarthenshire council’s licensing sub-committee that Mr Parry, who was jailed for three years and four months, was described as the main perpetrator’s right-hand man. He also said the main perpetrator’s girlfriend, who acted as a courier and benefited from the illegal activities, was Laura Coelho, the sister of Aaron Coelho.
Sergeant Ashton said Mr Parry had 11 convictions and that leaseholder Mr Smith, although he had no involvement in the drugs case, had claimed ownership of items which police had seized as part of Operation Elegant. He also said Mr Smith had 12 criminal convictions – dating from 2018 to 2020 – and that Mr Coelho, who also had no involvement in the drugs case, had one conviction from 2015.
Sergeant Ashton said he believed Mr Coelho was being put forward as the applicant by Mr Smith and Mr Parry as there would be less likelihood of a police objection. He said the circumstances were exceptional and that the prevention of crime would be undermined. Sergeant Ashton also said seven incidents at Stamps had been reported to police in April, ranging from an intoxicated female fighting with door staff to a man alleged to be fighting with everyone.
Mr Smith addressed the sub-committee to say that Mr Parry would not be working for Stamps as his probation officer had told him it would not be an option due to his prison licence conditions. This, said Mr Smith, had only come to light after the press coverage stating Mr Parry would be the bar manager.
Mr Smith added that Mr Coelho had not spoken to or associated with his sister following her involvement in the conspiracy to supply drugs and that he “strongly disagreed” with her actions. He said neither he nor Mr Coelho had any involvement in Operation Elegant but did know or were related to two of the nine defendants. He said it was “extremely unfair” for him and Mr Coelho to be “penalised for the actions of other people”.
Mr Smith said most of his own convictions were motoring-related and that since his last one in 2020 he had opened three e-cigarette shops, got married, bought a house and become a father to two children. He said: “It’s fair to say I’m in a much more stable position than I was three years ago.” He added: “I would say that I’m a reformed character.”
The sub-committee refused to grant the licence, saying it had attached weight to the views expressed by the police.
The decision notice stated: “In coming to its decision, the sub-committee made the following findings:
* Mr Coelho has a criminal conviction in 2015 for affray.
* Jordan Parry has a number of criminal convictions, including convictions for drug related offences and offences of violence. Some of these convictions relate to organised crime.
* Mr Coelho’s sister was involved in the same drugs related crimes as Mr Parry.
* The premises opened on March 31 and since then there have been several incidents of crime and disorder at the premises.
* The premises is located in an area identified in the council’s Statement of Licensing Policy as a Crime and Disorder hotspot.
* Jordan Dale Parry is a friend of Mr Ethan Smith the leaseholder.
“The sub-committee noted that the police rarely objected to such applications and that the convictions outlined in the police evidence were both serious and numerous. There were clear connections between the applicant and those linked with organised crime. This, combined with the recent incidents at the premises, suggests to the sub-committee that exceptional circumstances did exist in this case.”
Magistrates, however, later granted Stamps a licence to operate with conditions.
A Welsh Labour source said: “Llanelli Ukip offers no solutions and instead seeks to sow discord, trying to divide a proud community with a history of fighting the far right.
“There is a real whiff of hypocrisy about this. They are preying on people’s fear of crime and anti-social behaviour on one hand and turning a blind eye to issues when they want to throw a Christms party.”
We invited Mr Robinson to respond, but he did not do so.
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