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Pete Doherty dropped from festival line-up
Police have persuaded magistrates to ban a concert by rocker Pete Doherty's band Babyshambles fearing there could be public disorder.
The group was to have been the headline act of the opening night of the three-day Moonfest rock festival at Westbury on Friday.
But at the end of an all-day test case yesterday, North Wiltshire Magistrates supported the police application to cancel the show.
It's believed it was the first time police anywhere in the country had used Section 160 of the Licensing Act (2003) to get a performance stopped.
While officers objected to Friday's line-up because of fears over crowd control, they made no application for Saturday and Sunday.
Both police and the Moonfest organiser John Green were represented in court by barristers.
Doherty, who lives in Savernake Forest in a house once rented by supermodel Jodie Kidd, did not appear in court.
Supt Paul Williams was in court for the police and he told the Gazette that West Wiltshire District Council had acted quite properly in issuing a licence for the three-day event.
However, said Supt Williams, after scrutinising the safety arrangements police were unhappy at the level of crowd control and number of stewards the organisers proposed.
They were concerned over the Babyshambles concert, said the superintendent, because there had been problems when Pete Doherty gave a solo performance in July at the Royal Albert Hall.
"It is very unusual for the Royal Albert Hall to have to request police assistance, which on that occasion they did," he said.
Supt Williams added: "He (Doherty) just whipped up the crowd and there was disorder."
Ch Supt Julian Kirby, the divisional commander, said: "We became concerned because the organiser did not appear to have due cognisance of all the risks.
"We carried out an analysis of what Pete Doherty and his band does.
"What he does as part of his routine is to gee up the crowd.
"They speed up and then slow down the music and create a whirlpool effect in the crowd.
"They (the crowd) all get geed up and then they start fighting."
Supt Williams said the organisers told the court they had only 10 licensed stewards available and claimed that only 150 of the 5,000 tickets had been sold for Friday's show.
Normally police insist on one steward for every 100 participants.
He said police took the view that if the weather turned out to be fine there could have been a rush for tickets and that the 10 stewards would have been inadequate to cope with any public order situation.
"You are talking of as many as 5,000 people in what is effectively an open field," said the superintendent.
Police said Mr Green had been very cooperative in seeking general advice over the Moonfest but had been unable to satisfy their fears over "the potential for disorder".
Mr Green told the Gazette he was "extremely disappointed" at the police action and the court's decision.