AN ALLOA pub manager who was found operating a karaoke machine at an "impromptu" lockdown gathering has been slapped on the wrist by the licensing board.

Craig Stewart had his Personal License endorsed following an incident at The Royal Oak Hotel on Friday, April 24.

At the June 11 sitting of Clackmannanshire Council's Licensing Board, held virtually, Police Scotland's Sergeant Derek Simpson told the hearing how officers on routine foot patrol discovered a small gathering at the Royal Oak's upstairs function room.

They became alerted to the sound of music and singing coming from within.

Upon entering through a back door, the front having been closed, they discovered seven people consuming alcohol and singing.

Mr Stewart, who identified himself as the person in charge, runs The Royal Oak as a joint venture with a business partner who acts as the designated premises manager (DPM) and who was not present at the time.

Police officers took an "engage, explain and encourage" approach in what was the first incident of its nature across the whole division during the coronavirus lockdown.

According to the sergeant, Mr Stewart co-operated with officers, apologised immediately and quickly broke up the gathering.

No penalties were issued and no one was reported to the procurator fiscal.

However, the chief constable has reported the licensee for a review, asking for a revocation, arguing Mr Stewart's conduct was inconsistent with a licensing objective to protect and improve public health.

Sgt Simpson made clear there was no clear evidence the sale of alcohol took place on the premises.

Officers did discover carrier bags with alcohol, indicating it was likely the drinks were brought in and upon entering, they observed Mr Stewart operating a karaoke machine.

The police sergeant explained that at the time of the incident "the country was at the height of the lockdown".

He added: "On being spoken to, Craig Stewart immediately accepted the advice that he was given by officers, apologised and agreed to have everybody leave immediately."

Jim Kelly, appearing as a defence agent on behalf of Mr Stewart, said the manager accepted he had done wrong.

He added: "Someone with 13 years of experience should have known better."

And highlighted it was an "impromptu" gathering with nothing pre-planned.

He said Mr Stewart accepted his actions could have placed himself and others at risk of exposure to the virus, but "thankfully" no one has displayed symptoms since.

The defence agent also said an appearance in front of the board was "embarrassing to say the least" for Mr Stewart, but he has learned his lesson.

Mr Kelly said: "As the sergeant said, Mr Stewart has been a law-abiding license holder for a number of years and this incident is an unwelcome blemish on that particular record."

An endorsement on a personal license is similar to the approach to driving licenses and is essentially a penalty point.

Should a license holder receive three endorsements, a hearing must be held to decide if any further action should be taken.