"Publican Geoff Monks saw his £1m business destroyed and his health ruined - and it all began when an inexperienced waitress served the wrong bottle of wine"
- Private Eye,
7th March, 2003
In 1999, Geoff Monks ejected a customer from his restaurant for being loud, obnoxious and rude to his staff. The customer turned out to be one of the most powerful solicitors in the region, who lodged a complaint with East Northlands District Council about food hygiene on his premises. A piece of mouldy ham was allegedly found in the premises (although no forensic evidence or photos of the offending ham was ever produced), another property of his was found to have a broken window in the kitchen and a mouse was seen at his third premises. A hearing of the ENDC fined him a total of £31,800 for these offences, later reduced on appeal. His restaurants were shut down, and unable to pay his fines, he was given a custodial sentence in a Woodhill, a maximmum security prison where his cell was directly above that of child murderer Ian Huntley. Monks was never given the opportunity to present evidence at his hearings, and more importantly, was never given the chance to rectify any breaches of regulations in his restaurants, which breaches the Food Standards Agency guidelines which take precedent in all other similar cases.
He was released on December 8th. Unfortunately, his jail term was only in respect of his £13,500 fine - the £8,500 he owes in costs and legal fees remains unpaid, and may face a second spell in Woodhill.
There can be no doubt that this is a shocking travesty of justice - even if every claim that the council makes is true, the punishment simply does not fit the crime. Nobody has ever claimed that Monks repeatedly and recklessly threatened the health of the public. Yet he's been treated as if he's a menace to society. Also, the ENDC has only ever made four convictions on food safety charges - three of which have come against Monks.