A PUB at the heart of a police investigation into drug dealing has had its alcohol licence suspended for three months.

The Royal Mortar, in Military Road, had its licence suspended in December following an undercover police probe into drug activity.

Officers claim drugs were sold to them on the premises during their operation.

Mr Bugg, who has run pubs in Colchester for almost 20 years with his wife, however, told Colchester Council’s licensing sub-committee he has always taken action against illicit behaviour.

A report compiled by Essex Police said undercover officers were deployed to observe and detect drug dealing between July and November last year.

The report to the licensing committee, which met yesterday, said: “It is Essex Police’s belief the use of cocaine was so blatant and conducted in plain sight that management and staff were either complicit or were wilfully blind to the occurrences.

“The drug dealing and drug use was widespread - it took place on each occasion the premises were visited - and conducted in the open.”

Officers said drugs were “routinely” sold on the premises, while cocaine was “openly used”.

Mr Bugg’s lawyer, Daniel Taylor, said his client was a “reputable and respected landlord” who had barred at least 20 people from the Royal Mortar prior to the police investigation.

He added many of the occasions undercover officers visited the pub there were “unusually large” crowds of people there due to England’s Euro 2020 matches.

Mr Taylor claimed this meant some “fairly unsavoury” customers who weren’t known to the landlord were on site.

Speaking to the committee, Mr Bugg said: “I will not put up with drug taking and if I catch it I deal with it. Do I go looking for it all the time? No, because I’ve got other jobs to do.

“We’ve tried to do our best to combat it and we are absolutely devastated with what has happened. We’ve been landlords for 20 years and have always been diligent.”

Last week, the Leather Bottle pub in Shrub End, Colchester, had its licence to sell alcohol revoked after it was described by police as the “heart of a large scale cocaine business”.

Colchester Council withdrew the licence after a licensing committee was told drug dealers unwittingly sold cocaine to undercover police officers.