'Filthy' B&B owner fined £7k for false four-star rating
The owner of a "filthy" guest house has been fined £7,000 after admitting falsely claiming the establishment had a four-star rating.
John Dixon Hart was prosecuted by East Riding of Yorkshire Council after a trading standards investigation.
Guests at Beverley Guest House complained of rooms with "dust and muck all over", mouldy showers and blood-stained walls.
One guest found mud inside a fridge and another found mouse droppings on a bed.
Hart called the rating an "innocent mistake" and said rooms were clean.
The 53-year-old of Keldgate in Beverley appeared at the town's magistrates' court on Wednesday.
He pleaded guilty to advertising and running a guest house below the minimum standards expected.
The court heard a number of witness statements, one which read: "I could probably say, with one exception, this is the worst B&B I have ever stayed in."
Guests also complained they were given either a very basic breakfast or no breakfast at all - despite it being advertised.
'Dude in my bed'
Out of 277 reviews on Trip Advisor, 69 per cent rated the guest house as terrible.
One reviewer said "wouldn't recommend to an enemy" and another described the guest house as "filthy".
Another said the owner double-booked his room and he came back to find "another dude in my bed".
Beverley Guest House, formerly known as Minster Garth, had been given a four-star rating by Visit England in 2008.
However, when Hart took over the business a few years later he failed to renew the contract with Quality in Tourism/Visit England and continued to use the four-star rating without permission.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council had given him numerous warnings about misleading customers and had also offered him advice.
Solicitor Dave Robson, representing Hart, told magistrates his client accepted his "poor temperament" towards guests wasn't acceptable.
He said when he took over he had tried to do everything himself, and this combined with other pressures, led him to drink, which was reflected in the poor service.
Speaking to BBC Look North, Hart said: "I apologised to Visit England, but it was a completely innocent mistake as we were so busy keeping the guest house running we didn't take the sign down.
"People use outlandish statements that are ridiculously over-exaggerated, and this is probably one of the nicest guest houses in Beverley."