Former owner’s return to notorious Lower Clapton nightclub sparks fear of return to troubled past

The former owner of a notorious Hackney nightclub has occupied the premises in defiance of its sale, sparking fears of a return to the days of ‘murder mile’.

Ken Edwards, 78, and his supporters are claiming squatters’ rights after entering Palace Pavilion on June 22.

They are angry about plans to turn the abandoned property in Lower Clapton Road into an Ethiopian Orthodox Church, claiming its sell-off by a bank in May was invalid.

A spokesman for new owners St Mary of Zion, who have been looking for a place of worship for 37 years, said: “We are trying our best to get the building back and bring it back to the community. But it is a struggle. At the moment we are trying to resolve issues with the former owner.”

He said they were seeking an eviction notice.

Rumours of a party this weekend reminded resdidents of days when shootings and stabbings plagued the area.

Warren Graham, 18, was knifed to death inside the club in October 2004 during an end-of-school-term party.

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And Mr Edwards closed the club voluntarily following the murder of 19-year-old Barrington Williams-Samuels outside the venue in January 2006.

The town hall revoked its licence the following March.

Plans to restore the old cinema to its former glory were unsuccessful.

Hackney councillor Ian Rathbone said: “We are quite concerned that Mr Edwards has entered the building.

“Hopefully he will go quietly and not cause a lot of aggravation to the community.”

But Lawrence Campbell, who performs under then name O.J. Diamond and is acting power of attorney on behalf of Mr Edwards, said his supporters were determined to stay.

“He is going to defend his property irrespective of what someone else wants,” he said.

“People want the club open. They do not want it to be a church. This was meant for the people.”

A spokeswoman for Hackney police said officers were conducting regular patrols of the area.

Anyone with queries or concerns can call Hackney Downs Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 020 8721 2940 or 07879 486802 or email