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Former director charged with arson after Players Club fire

By Alan Smith

A former director of a gentlemen’s club in Maidstone has been charged after an arson attack.

Police and firefighters were called to the Players Club in High Street just after 1pm on Saturday.

Officers roped off the lower end of High Street near the Medway Bridge while firefighters dealt with two fires inside – one upstairs and one near the front of the building. Buses were temporarily diverted via Mill Street.

Police at the scene of the arson
Police at the scene of the arson

James Pemble, a former director of Players (Maidstone) Limited, which was dissolved on September 8, was later arrested by police on a bridge over the M20 near Ashford.

The 42-year-old, of Lucks Lane, Paddock Wood, appeared at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court to face five charges. He did not enter any pleas.

Magistrates heard traffic on the M20 was halted while the arrest was made.

Pemble had parked a yellow Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, which the prosecution said he had stolen after pushing out the driver.

As well as arson and robbery charges, he is also accused of making threatening phone calls to his ex-wife, Emma Sexton, who now runs the club, and driving while disqualified and with no insurance.

Players Club in Maidstone high street
Players Club in Maidstone high street

No application for bail was made and magistrates ordered that Pemble stay in custody until his trial on Friday, October 23.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue said: “We attended a fire and crews used breathing apparatus and hose reels to put it out.

“In terms of firefighting, it was not too challenging and the crews were ready to leave the scene after 45 minutes, but we asked our fire investigation unit to look at the cause of the blaze.”

The sign warning of Players closure
The sign warning of Players closure

High Street was reopened after about two hours.

Police officers and the fire investigation unit remained at the scene throughout the afternoon.

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