A COURT decision overturning a licensing board's refusal to grant a lapdancing club a drinks permit caused a case against an Alva restaurateur to collapse.

Ravi Salohtra, manager of Rani's Golden Spice, faced having his personal alcohol licence revoked after UK Border Agency officers found illegal immigrants on his payroll.

Clackmannanshire Licensing Board had previously withdrawn the premises licence and fined owner Robinda Salohtra £10,000 in June.

But the hearing over the manager's personal licence was abandoned on Thursday amid claims that any ruling would be legally flawed.

It came after board members heard details of a Court of Session ruling in favour of lapdancing chain Spearmint Rhino.

City of Glasgow Licensing Board had originally refused a drinks licence to the club in Glasgow's Drury Street for breaching the board's Code of Practice - including an incident in which two lapdancers removed all of their clothes during a performance.

Judges upheld the appeal by owners BrightCrew Limited last month stating that, while the objectives in the code of practice may be "desirable", they were not linked to the sale of alcohol and therefore outwith the board's remit.

Mr Salohtra's solicitor John Batters contended that the ruling meant an individual's alcohol licence could not be judged in relation to an immigration offence.

In a letter to the board he wrote, "The 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act cannot be used to enforce other legislation or to penalise any person for an alleged contravention of other legislation. It can only be used for matters which concern the use of the premises for the sale of alcohol.

"The alleged offending behaviour has nothing whatever to do with the use of the premises for the sale of alcohol. That being the case the purported proceedings are fundamentally flawed and any purported disposal would be ultra vires (beyond the powers of) the board." At a licensing board meeting in June members heard that immigration officers visited the restaurant in Stirling Street, Alva, on 24 March during an investigation.

They found two non-EU workers who had been employed there for three and six weeks despite not having any paperwork proving their right to work in the UK.

A Border Agency official said there was "reasonable cause" for company director Robinda Salohtra to believe they were not EU citizens and had no legal right to live or work in the UK. Both Robinda and Ravi Salohtra denied any knowledge of their staff's legal status.

Licensing standards officer Paul Fair highlighted additional areas of concern at the premises such as a lack of training given to employees for the handling of alcohol and the rate of pay for the illegal workers - just £3.33 per hour.

The board ruled in favour of revoking the premises licence in line with its breach of licensing objectives, in particular the prevention of crime and disorder. Judgement on Mr Salohtra's personal licence, on the grounds of his involvement in the employment of the illegal immigrants, was adjourned to a separate hearing.

But on learning of the Court of Session ruling, board member councillor George Matchett said the decision threw up "ambiguity and doubt" over whether the board could proceed against Mr Salohtra. Councillor Alastair Campbell lodged a motion against pursuing the hearing which was unanimously accepted by members.