Police secure former Marco Pierre White restaurant being used by squatters

Police have secured the site of a former restaurant owned by chef Marco Pierre White in central London after it was being used by squatters.

Westminster City Council said the Met “responded and dealt with the incident” at the premises in Leicester Square, despite the issue normally being a civil matter.

Officers on patrol in Westminster shortly after 1am on Sunday were stopped by members of the public reporting an unlicensed music event taking place in an empty building on the square, the force said.

Restaurant squatting
The front entrances of the site have been covered over and locked shut (Victoria Jones/PA)

The venue was cleared of people and secured, and one man was arrested on suspicion of carrying Class A and B drugs with intent to supply.

Graffiti could be seen on the exterior of the building, which previously housed Mr White’s steak and pizza restaurant, and some of its doors were padlocked shut on Wednesday.

The restaurant, which was ran by Black & White Hospitality, closed earlier this year after two years in operation.

A manager at the Jollibee restaurant next door told the PA news agency he had recently seen “homeless people” at the back of the premises “doing drugs”.

Restaurant squatting
A squatter enjoys a drink in front of the York & Albany pub on Wednesday (Victoria Jones/PA)

It comes after squatters took over the pub of another celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, near Regent’s Park last week.

The group locked themselves inside the Grade II-listed York & Albany hotel and gastropub, and set up an “autonomous cafe” inside, but said in a social media post they had been served legal papers to vacate the building.

Squatters continued to emerge from the pub on Wednesday despite the order, including to pick up deliveries and have drink outside whilst covering their head with a bag.

According to government guidance, squatters can apply to become the registered owners of a property if they have occupied it continuously for 10 years, acted as owners for the whole of that time and had not previously been given permission to live there by the owner.