Belfast Police are facing legal action from a club owner for raiding his club and seizing over £20,000.
Adorning riot gear dozens of police officers raided the city centre Cavendish Club, breaking up a card game and ordering 200 players, including lawyers and doctors, to stop playing.
The club is demanding its money back from police in the belief that it was doing nothing illegal or wrong.
The Cavendish is a regular on Sky TV and has also hosted the online Texas Hold’em poker Open, also known for not serving alcohol, just tea and coffee.
Sean Murphy, the club’s owner stated “a number of armed policemen raided the premises.
“There was just over £20,000 – which was the prize money we had collected for the tournament on Saturday night”
Continuing “Looking into the room, I saw upwards of 15 – 20 policemen and I was subsequently told there was the same number downstairs – they were armed and in riot gear.
“They just marched in and went up the stairs. It was quite frightening,
“These are businessmen, professional types and people from all walks of life sitting down having a game of poker – they are not used to having squads of policemen charging up the stairs at them.” he added.
“The Cavendish Club has been open for a couple of years in Belfast – it is a private club catering for the poker fraternity in Belfast and Northern Ireland in general.”
Mr. Murphy is looking forward to an imminent court case which he believes will provide clarification on the laws that are presently unclear.
“I spoke to a senior police officer when we opened…. because the Gaming and Lotteries Act (NI) is a little bit of a grey area.
“The senior policeman assured me that if there were any concerns he would be in touch with me.
“Since nothing transpired after that we assumed everything was in order.”
Kevin Winters, a solicitor for Mr. Murphy commented “He is at a loss as to why the police should be so heavy-handed.”
A police spokesman stated “The police carried out a planned search in Corporation Street in Belfast under the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985.
“They seized cash and a number of items. If anyone has a complaint to make about the actions of any police officer, they should contact the Police Ombudsman’s office.”