A restaurant owner claimed mouldy chicken found in his mouse-and-cockroach-infested kitchen was boiled crab.
Gaby Kolajo has to pay £10,170 in fines and charges for the grim ‘state of his kitchen’ in his West African eatery – Lagos Island, in Leyton, east London.
It comes after Waltham Forest council ordered Kolajo to shut his business in August 2018 because they found rodents and insects all over the dirty kitchen.
Councillors also discovered a container filled with what they believed was mouldy chicken.
Kolajo tried to tell them it was a speciality traditional Nigerian dish of boiled crab, but the inspectors did not buy it.
Despite being ordered to shut his doors to the public while he improved Lagos Island’s hygiene, he was caught hosting a birthday party on September 1.
Again, he tried to lie and claimed the hygiene emergency prohibition order was for a different restaurant, but this did not fly either.
Kolajo was charged with failing to keep his restaurant clean, not controlling pests, serving customers while there were known health risks and breaching the legal order to close his business.
Stratford Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of all four offences last month, after the pandemic delayed his hearing several times.
The court handed him the highest possible fines he could get.
Now, Kolajo will be more than £10,000 out of pocket, including £2,000 in costs to the local authority and a £170 victim surcharge.
Lagos Island was inspected again in July 2020 when it was given a food hygiene rating of zero – meaning it requires urgent improvement.
Councillor Clyde Loakes said: ‘The magistrate clearly saw through Kolajo’s claims and used their full powers as a warning that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
‘The state of the kitchens was bad enough but the owner decided to ignore the environmental health officer and the court to continue serving customers putting their health at serious risk.
‘As a local authority we have limited powers in what we can do to a business – even one that so egregiously ignores orders.
‘But you can rest assured that we will use all the powers available to us to take action against the minority of food business operators who do not take their responsibilities seriously like Mr Kolajo.’