Former St Albans pub landlord fined £2,000 for music licence breach

The White Lion pub on Sopwell Lane

The White Lion pub on Sopwell Lane - Credit: Archant

A former pub landlord has been ordered by a High Court judge to pay court costs of nearly £2,000 after he was caught playing music without a licence.

Glynn O’Shea, the former leaseholder of the White Lion pub in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, was found playing recorded copyrighted tracks in May without a Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) licence.

Jamie Muir-Wood, counsel for the non-profit PPL organisation, said that O’Shea, who did not attend court and was not represented, had ignored a series of letters inviting him to acquire a licence.

As a result, O’Shea has been ordered to pay £1,913 in legal costs which were run up by PPL in taking the matter to the High Court.

As part of a crackdown on unlicensed music playing, the PPL has issued a sharp warning to other pubs, bars, clubs and commercial properties that failure to keep a current licence could result in High Court action.

Top judge Mr Justice Peter Smith imposed a ‘pay up or shut up’ order on O’Shea after it was revealed an inspector visited the pub, which is now under new management, on May 8 and heard tracks including Cinnamon Girl and Nothing Ever Happens playing without a licence.

Christine Geissmar, operations director at PPL, said: “There is an intrinsic value that recorded music adds to businesses, and this judgement acknowledges that performers of the music and record companies should be fairly rewarded.

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“Legal action is only ever sought as a last resort where a business continues to play music following repeated attempts from PPL to get the correct licensing in place.”

After contacting the White Lion for comment, landlord Andrew Meredith told the Herts Advertiser that he was unaware of O’Shea’s whereabouts and that the pub owners, Punch Taverns, were also unaware.

A spokesperson for Punch Taverns said: “We can confirm that due to excessive levels of debt, Punch Taverns took back possession of the White Lion in June 2015.

“The pub is open and trading under temporary management whilst our local teams work hard to recruit a new tenant to take the long term opportunity at the pub.”

Andrew added that they now had the appropriate PPL licence in place. He said: “It was one of the first things I did when taking over, ironically.”

Failure to obey an order and turn premises into a music-free zone until all licence fees are brought up to date can be regarded as contempt of court, resulting in fines of up to £10,000.