Pub was advised to change name after vigilante paedophile hunter sting, meeting told

The Griffin pub in Southampton.
The Griffin pub in Southampton.

POLICE advised a pub to change its name after its new manager was arrested following a vigilante paedophile group sting.

The Griffin in Shirley had reopened in October last year with plans to become more 'family friendly'.

But it was heavily targeted on social media after its then-manager Phillip Cornock was arrested and charged with sexual offences.

Mr Cornock faces a trial in August and denies the charges.

The issue was aired at a licensing meeting at Southampton City Council as The Griffin's parent company, Sonia Hotels and Leisure Ltd run by director Sonia Kanda, applied for a licence extension.

In a letter to the council, read out at the meeting, Ms Kanda said: "Just a couple of weeks prior to opening, the person who was going to manage the pub was in a paedophile sting.

“This was in the newspapers and The Griffin name was targeted heavily on social media.

“The police and licensing officer advised us to change the pub name; we didn’t because the pub had history.

“Even with all that bad publicity we had no issues because the regulars have seen that we are family people.”

Manoj Kumar fired Mr Cornock and in a Facebook post said the incident would not "ruin our reputation".

The new owner vowed to open soon ‘as planned’ – and the pub did.

This week Mr Kumar attended the licensing meeting in the hope of extending alcohol-serving hours till 1.30am every day, other than on Sundays when the last orders would be midnight.

Mr Kumar told councillors: “When this pub was purchased you could smell urine. You could smell dogs.

"It could have just been opened like that but it would have only attracted people who want cheap drinks and have no manners.

“We took a brave step, gutted the whole place, and refurbished it so we could get the clientele who would enjoy the atmosphere in The Griffin.”

Some residents objected as they concerned that the increased hours would cause noise disturbance.

The licence extension was granted, but with the condition that the pub would only be allowed to serve alcohol till midnight every night, in order to mitigate public nuisance.