More than 700 bottles of wine and spirits were discovered at a Birmingham city centre restaurant allegedly selling alcohol without a drinks licence.
The stash, at the Athens Restaurant in Paradise Circus, was described as a "vast quantity" by a police officer who raided the premises after advising the owner on previous occasions to apply for a licence to hold dances, play recorded music and sell alcohol.
Although police issued a closure order on the Athens bar shortly before Christmas, officers conducting a follow-up visit found that alcohol was still being sold to customers.
There were so many bottles in the restaurant that the police could confiscate only a fraction, sealing the majority in fridges and warning the owner that they were not to be touched.
A Birmingham City Council licensing sub-committee will consider an application today for a temporary event notice at the restaurant to run from January 26 to 28, enabling alcohol to be sold for three days. The request is being opposed by the police.
Restaurant owner Savvas Francis, who denies any wrongdoing, accused the police of being heavy-handed.
He said he had been una-ware he had to apply under the new Licensing Act for the continuation of his drinks licence, which he had held for 17 years. After this was
pointed out to him by the police, he gave alcohol away to customers rather than make a charge. Mr Francis added: "The police visited us four times and asked all the customers and everyone said they were free drinks apart from one lady who paid £42, but that was for soft drinks.
"We had to give free drink because we would have been breaking the law if we sold it.
You can't say to 200 people at Christmas you can't have a drink," he said.
Pc Ab Rohoman, of the Steelhouse Lane licensing team, said in a written sub-mission to the sub-committee that Mr Francis was warned before Christmas that all of the alcohol on the premises could be seized if offences occurred.
When the premises were visited on January 6, police found a dance taking place. After quizzing customers, police decided the cost of drinks was being put on food bills.
* Police are objecting to plans by Birmingham newsagent Central News in Bull Street to start selling alcohol at 5am.