London

Soho's historic Windmill strip club faces closure

Windmill Theatre on Great Windmill Street, Soho, London Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Windmill club in Soho was formerly known as the Windmill Theatre

A historic strip club in west London could be forced to close over "serious breaches" of its licensing conditions.

The Windmill in Soho, which the film Mrs Henderson Presents was based on, has operated since the 1930s and is famed for staying open in the Blitz.

Westminster City Council decided on Thursday not to renew its sexual entertainment licence after concerns were raised that dancers regularly broke the no touching rules.

The club declined to comment.

Councillor Angela Harvey, chairman of the council's licensing committee, said: "After careful review of the evidence provided for and against the renewal of this sexual entertainment licence, Westminster City Council has decided not to renew this venue's licence.

"Serious breaches of licence conditions will not be tolerated in Westminster's licensed venues.

"We expect any business operating under a licence within our city, to do so in a safe and responsible way, ensuring protection of all those who come into contact with this form of entertainment."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Windmill club has staged striptease shows since 1932

The move came after a women's rights group complained the club was breaching conditions banning physical contact between dancers and clients.

The dancers, the group said, are under a management which could be "prostituting them".

The group had hired former police officers to collect evidence and one of them described how a dancer "rubbed herself up and down" on him and touched him intimately.

He also said the dancer paid the security guard £10 to "look the other way".

The Soho Society said it was concerned women working for the Windmill "may end up in a working environment where they are even more vulnerable than they are at present".

The owner of the club apologised for the venue's "failings" in a letter to the council and said he was "confident" of ensuring compliance after a number of dancers were dismissed or suspended for breaking "no touching rules".

The club has 21 days to appeal the decision.

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