The Royal China restaurant group in London has had illegally imported shark fins confiscated by Westminster Council.

Jason Chan, marketing manager for the four-restaurant group had boasted to reporters from the i newspaper that he sold shark fin soup, not on the menu, to wealthy Chinese diners and had a team of people bringing the fins into the UK in suitcases “to stop them being confiscated”. In fact the investigation found that the fins were being posted from Hong Kong, in contravention of UK import law. Continue reading


  • A rally of Neo-Nazis, Holocaust-deniers, and members of the National Front and BNP at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria on April 11 has angered the Campaign against Anti-Semitism after claims that speakers had dressed up their race-hatred as academic work and described Jewish people as “the enemy” and the “children of darkness” The keynote speaker was Spanish self-confessed Nazi Pedro Varela who has claimed “There were never any gas chambers at Auschwitz”, although at just 57 years old he couldn’t possibly have been there at the time to know.

    The police say the rally “did not reach the threshold for a criminal investigation” However, going on previous similar situations, any Jewish staff at the Grosvenor who were exposed to the “vile rants” and offended by them may have a case against their employer under duty of care, if the management was aware of the content of the rally when the ill-considered booking was taken.

  • A fire station opposite Piccadilly station in Manchester, derelict since 1986, has finally been put up for sale by its owners Britannia Hotels, after threats of a Compulsory Purchase Order from Manchester City Council (Business Desk).

    The Grade ll listed red brick and terracotta building was built in 1906 in an Edwardian Baroque style and now has listed building consent to turn it into a high-end 227-bedroom, 13,000 square metre hotel with restaurants, bars and conference spaces, thought to be a profitable possibility given the ambitious plans for regeneration of the Piccadilly area for the HS2 trains.

  • The billionaire Barclay twins, Sir David and Sir Frederick have sold their 64% stake in the Coroin holding company for Claridges and the Berkeley and Connaught hotels to the Quatari Constellation Hotels Group.

    This follows four years of Fred and Dave making very rich solicitors richer still with failed legal battles to force Coirin’s other shareholder, Paddy McKillen, to give up his stake.

    The Barclays still own something valuable on London’s Piccadilly called The Ritz.


Those organising events in venues with some history will want to know about Clevedon Hall, a beautifully preserved 150 year-old Victorian mansion, located 13 miles south west of Bristol centre and by the seafront at the time-warped Victorian seaside town of Clevedon.

Opened in 2010 for weddings and corporate events after a £3 million refurbishment the Hall offers an English country house feel and, from last November, 25 individual bedrooms in the style of the era. On a recent press visit our very spacious one included a large four poster bed, period furniture, a Victorian roll-top bath. a huge walk in shower stall, large bottles of expensive toiletries and a selection of more than fifty classic books by the likes of Shaw, Dickens, Scott, Stevenson, Somerset-Maughan, Dumas, Hugo, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, enough for a year’s relaxed reading and the perfect intellectual diversion for corporate high-fliers and newly-weds. One quirky item that might also appeal is the high-tech Japanese heated toilet seat that moves to different positions and delivers a cooling and cleansing spray. Continue reading


Those looking for a base for a small residential event or executive retreat in Yorkshire can consider the Old Lodge hotel at Malton, a cosy Yorkshire town midway between York and Scarborough.

Also popular for weddings (it has a licence) and private dining this Tudor mansion offers a total of 20 individual bedrooms in the atmospheric main house and 8 modern rooms in The Old Lodgings, a self-contained annexe nearby, which has its own lounge area and kitchen and can sleep from eight with a bedroom each and has beds for up to 20 sharing. All rooms have baths, most have showers over, all have double beds and B&B prices are from £85 for single occupancy to £125 for double occupancy. Continue reading


The Sheene Mill is a Grade II Listed 16th Century Mill House on the river Mel in the village of Melbourne, on the Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex borders, near Royston.

It is operated as a fine-dining restaurant with rooms – see food review in last issue – as well as an attractive option for non-residential conferences for up to 100 and, due to the quiet waterside setting in attractive grounds, for weddings, parties and other social events. The main restaurant and banqueting area is divisible and can seat up to 120 covers, or 100 theatre-style to allow dining space. There is also a conservatory area for 50 with a bar and small separate lounge, overlooking the river and grounds, which feature a striking white waterside pavilion for bridal photographs. Continue reading


This 1932 black and white science fiction horror shocker was the first, and far and away the best of three Hollywood adaptations of the 1896 H.G.Wells story, The Island of Dr Moreau.

Starring one of the era’s finest actors, Charles Laughton, this is about a mad and sadistic doctor on a remote Pacific island who carries out cruel surgical procedures to graft bits of animals onto humans, without anaesthetic, on his operating table in his “house of pain”. To control his dozens of created abominations the repellent Moreau uses a whip on them, and indoctrination into “laws” against violence designed to protect him from any revenge. and repeated by his brutish “Sayer of the law” (Bala Lugosi). His one attractive and female creation, more human than animal, is Lota the beautiful panther-woman (Kathleen Burke) and with Moreau’s encouragement (he wants her to breed) she falls in love with a shipwrecked traveller, Parker (Richard Arlen) who has fetched up on the island after being dumped overboard the freighter that picked him up. Continue reading