London

Challenge to ban on sex parties in London mansion fails

A man has failed in his bid to overturn a ban on holding events including sex parties at his London mansion.

Appeal Court judges dismissed Edward Davenport's challenge to a High Court injunction supporting a ban by Westminster Council.

Planners said he had used his Portland Place home as a party hub - holding pole dancing classes and masked balls.

They argued that the use of the house for such events breached planning rules.

Mr Davenport was first hit with an enforcement notice forcing him to return the 110-room house to purely residential use, and then by a High Court injunction in July 2010.

At the Court of Appeal, Mr Davenport's lawyers argued the enforcement notice was so badly drafted that it was no more than "waste paper" and that the injunction based on it was also invalid.

'Porn disco'

Rejecting claims that the enforcement notice was "a nullity", Lord Justice Pill, said that even if it had been invalid, the injunction was still justified "to end blatant infringements of planning control".

The judge said it was "clear" the house could only be used for residential purposes and there was "no merit" in what was described as Mr Davenport's "technical" attack on the council's action.

Westminster Council had claimed there were "persistent and flagrant" breaches of planning rules at Mr Davenport's house.

He is alleged to have hired out the five-storey mansion for events such as the December 2009 "Courvoisier" party, which council lawyers said involved a swimming pool being filled with cocktails for revellers to row across amidst a pink glow of light.

The council said a "porn disco", film shoots and a masquerade ball were also held when no commercial activity was allowed.

The council took legal action against Mr Davenport because it felt his neighbours were being disturbed to an "unacceptable degree".

It won a temporary injunction in January 2010 and said the building, a former High Commission of Gambia and Sierra Leone, had been used for commercial purposes for several years.

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