CCTV at restaurant where Rita Ora held birthday party was switched off – police


CCTV cameras at the Notting Hill restaurant where Rita Ora held her 30th birthday party during the second coronavirus lockdown were turned off to avoid filming the celebrity guests, police said.

Pop star Ora apologised for the "spur of the moment" decision to throw a celebration which broke Covid rules on November 28 last year.

Police said CCTV cameras at Casa Cruz in London's Notting Hill were switched off on the day of the party at the request of security working the event.

Police are trying to get the venue's licence revoked ahead of a hearing on Thursday. Details of the event emerged in a licence review report.

Scottie Bhattarai, a worker at the venue at the time of the party, gave a statement to a council officer and police on December 1 and said he had allowed the restaurant to be used.

He said representatives of Ora called him on his personal mobile phone at about 5.30pm on the day of the party and told him they wanted to use the venue for "drinks and nibbles".

Bhattarai said the representatives offered £5,000 and that most staff were on furlough so he went to Casa Cruz to "facilitate the event," apologising for being "greedy," according to his witness statement.

The group arrived at 7pm with seven or eight guests, he said, though by 9pm there were about 17 people, he told police.

They included model Cara Delevingne and her sister Poppy, according to police. Bhattarai told police "security for the entourage" wanted no footage of them arriving so he turned the CCTV off between 6pm-6.30pm.

Bhattarai later said the camera system had been faulty and scheduled for repair. No payment had been taken in relation to the event at the time of his statement, Bhattarai said.

The CCTV hard drives were reformatted on November 30, police said, and no footage was available for the previous month.

Bhattarai did not disclose details of the party organiser to police, according to the report.

Pc James Larner said in a statement included in the report he was on duty when he and a colleague answered a call about a potential breach of Covid rules.

They arrived at Casa Cruz shortly after 11.30pm and could hear music playing.

The windows of the venue were blacked out preventing the officers from seeing in, according to the statement.

However, they peered through small gaps and saw two maskless women sitting at a table, a man by the bar and three other women sitting at a separate table.

Glasses were visible, Pc Larner said. Police knocked on the door causing the music to stop, however there was no response from those inside and they disappeared from view, the statement said.

Pc Larner said the music stopping and the occupants apparently leaving meant "it was likely that Covid regulations were being knowingly breached as the occupants did not wish to engage with officers".

Apologising at the time, Ora said: "I feel particularly embarrassed knowing first-hand how hard people have worked to combat this terrible illness and being fully aware of the sacrifices that people and businesses have made to help keep us all safe.

"Even though this won't make it right, I want to sincerely apologise."

A representative for Ora has been contacted for comment.