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Tax fraud charges against O2 Arena restaurateur thrown out of court

By Neil Gerrard

Tax fraud charges against res- taurateur Frank Dowling, who was arrested in 2013 as part of an investigation, have been thrown out of court by a judge. Dowling, who ran Union Square, American Bar & Grill and Inc Club in the O2 Arena in London as part of a business that saw turnover of £20m per year, was arrested at his Green- wich home after his businesses collapsed into administration. The 48-year-old, who opened his first bar in 2003, was acquit- ted when the Crown Prosecu- tion offered no evidence after a four-year investigation into allegedly undeclared VAT and PAYE. He is now considering legal action against companies and organisations that have been proved of wrongdoing. “I am delighted that these charges have been thrown out by the judge. They were ill-founded, ill-conceived and just plain wrong,” he said. “The original accusations were made by individuals to forward

what they have put me through and how much money has been wasted.”

Dowling, who was brought up in New York, started his working life in construction there before moving to London to work on a property develop- ment project at Canary Wharf. He opened his first bar in

Dowling was the first restaurateur to sign a lease at the O2 Arena

their own commercial interests and were accepted by authori- ties, although they had proof to the contrary. My family and I have been through hell as they tried everything they could to ruin me.

“It has been devastating for

my business interests as many third parties decided to treat me as guilty and sought illegal and immoral means to seek com- mercial advantage, but the truth is out there for everyone to see now. There’s a feeling of relief that it is over but also anger at

Greenwich in 2003 and became the first restaurateur to sign a lease for a venue at the O2 Arena. He subsequently built up a portfolio of venues under the banner of the Inc Group, which grew to 23 restaurants, pubs and bars across the capi- tal, Leeds and Bristol. Commenting on the case, a CPS spokesperson said: “The CPS keeps all cases under regu- lar review in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecu- tors. Following a review of this case, prosecutors were no long- er satisfied that the evidential stage of the test under the code was met and therefore made the decision to offer no evidence.” Still time to enter: 2017 Restaurant of the Year competition

Seafish UK in association with The Caterer is inviting entries for the 2017 Restaurant of the Year competition.

Aimed at highlighting the best use and knowledge of seafood, especially under-used products, the competition is open to all restaurants in the UK that include fish and shell- fish on their menus. Restaurants do not have to have a standalone fish menu or exclusively offer fish and shellfish to be considered. Busi- nesses are asked to focus on examples of excellent custom- er service, innovative ideas to drive sales of fish and shellfish, outstanding fish and shellfish promotional activity and evi- dence of varied species of fish and shellfish alongside sustain- able policies and practices.

4 | The Caterer | 28 April 2017 Alex Aitken, chef-patron of

the Jetty in Christchurch, Dor- set, and the 2016 winner, said: “Winning the Restaurant of the Year award for the care taken to serve responsibly sourced fish meant a lot to the team – especially as a competition that is judged and decided by our peers and industry experts.” Judges for the competition this year include Aitken, along with Derek Marshall, chef- owner of Gamba in Glasgow

(and 2015 winner); José Souto, chef-lecturer

at Westminster

Kingsway College; Calum Rich- ardson, proprietor of the Bay Fish & Chips, Stonehaven, Ab- erdeenshire; restaurateur Will Smith; Giovanna Grossi, chief advisor on awards and quality assessment, AA Hotel Services; and Paul Hurren, managing director, Lusso, CH&Co Group. The overall winner and two team members of their choice will be invited on an all-expens-

es paid study trip to Brixham, Devon, to learn about the catch- ing, processing and supply of seafood, and will meet a range of key industry players and experience some of the world’s freshest and finest seafood. The winning restaurant will also receive an individu- ally designed seafood master- class at Billingsgate Seafood Training School in London with a guest chef. Other prizes include vouchers to be re- deemed against cookery equip- ment and signed copies of cookery books. To enter, go to seafoodrestaurantoftheyear and submit your details by 12 May.

Questions regarding the competition can be sent to

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