Published: 21:43, 22 January 2020
| Updated: 09:20, 23 January 2020
One of Kent's biggest nightclubs claims a notification of its permanent closure was published by hackers.
A message was posted on Maidstone club Gallery's Facebook and Instagram pages just after 9pm yesterday saying the club was closing permanently. The listings section of its website says there are no upcoming events.
But a spokesman for the club said: "It is with great disappointment that somebody has hacked into the Facebook account of Gallery Nightclub and has posted some fake news, however, Gallery is currently closed but not permanently."
Both posts have since been taken down but it is unknown when the club will reopen.
Gallery had its licence suspended in 2019 following a suspected murder.
Andre Bent, 21, was fatally stabbed in a huge brawl in Jubilee Square, Maidstone, following a performance by rapper MoStack— real name Montell Daley — at Gallery in Bank Street last summer.
Thirteen people have since been arrested, including a 16-year-old boy who is accused of Mr Bent’s murder, and will go on trial later this year.
Police applied to review the club’s premises licence, which was suspended ahead of a formal hearing in October.
At that hearing the council committee decided Gallery could reopen providing it met some 22 agreed conditions, including making sure all visitors were scanned for knives.
Day-to-day management of the venue, which has held a number of events since welcoming punters back on Halloween, has since changed hands but earlier this monthlandlord, Century Buildings (Rochester) Limited,applied for what is known as a shadow licence.
This essentially protects the landlord from any future licensing constraints brought about by controversy at the club and means such conditions would apply only to tenants at the time and not the owner of the building.
Earlier this month, the new conditions were passed without comment from a council committee.
A couple who previously objected to the shadow licence withdrew their objections before the hearing began.
Century Buildings Rochester Limited's agent was present at the committee, but declined an approach to comment.
Last night's announcement was greeted by surprise from customers.
Alex Marwood posted: "So you've gone from new management, to now permanently closed. Well it looks like Maidstone nightlife is getting worse."
When it opened, Gallery described itself as "A new, no-expense spared, multi-million pound, 16,000 SQ FT nightclub bringing exclusivity to the Maidstone club scene, with a full on half a million pound event sound & lighting."
Stars who have performed there include Jason Derulo, Timbaland and Tinie Tempah