Landlord vows to fight pub company

A PUB landlord has today admitted removing thousands of pounds of equipment from a Suffolk pub but has revealed he will go to jail before handing them back.

A PUB landlord has today admitted removing thousands of pounds of equipment from a Suffolk pub but has revealed he will go to jail before handing them back.

As reported in yesterday's Evening Star, an investigation was launched by police after equipment and furniture were reportedly stolen from The Shannon Inn, in Bucklesham, on Sunday or Monday.

The pub has been closed for business this week and the managers, Paul Freeman and his ex-wife Charlotte could not be contacted.

However the Star has since tracked Mr Freeman down to another pub he runs in Fornham St Martin, The Woolpack.

He has now revealed he and his ex-wife are responsible for taking the equipment but claims it is owned and paid for by him, not the property of the pub owners Punch Taverns.

He also claims the company has failed to cough up an £11,000 deposit on the pub.

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Mr Freeman said: “It is a civil matter.

“They should not have gone to the police - the equipment is not stolen, it is mine.

“If they can provide paperwork showing they have been paying for it then I will hand it back, but I know they won't be able to do that because we have been paying for it.”

Suffolk police today said inquiries are continuing and officers are keen to speak to Mr Freeman.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said: “From our point of view there is a police investigation going on so at this stage we are unable to make any comment.”

Mr Freeman said he and his parents formed a company called Endeavour Inns to run The Shannon in 2002 with his then wife, Charlotte, joining the venture later on.

Endeavour Inns eventually went into liquidation in 2006, but the landlords agreed that Charlotte could take over running the pub.

Mr Freeman said that in early 2007 he came to an arrangement that Punch Taverns would buy some of their equipment from them to provide capital for running the business.

The pub would retain use of the equipment free of charge for one year, at which point they would either begin to pay a lease fee or buy it back at a reduced price.

However Mr Freeman claims no money was ever paid to them by Punch for the equipment.

Paul and his wife, now known as Charlotte Freeman-Smith, have since split up but remain close friends.

Mr Freeman said he is willing to speak to police.

He said: “I am willing to fight this all the way.”

Mrs Freeman-Smith told the Star she has appointed a solicitor and is considering action against Punch Taverns.

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