A magistrate has stepped down from his duties after it was revealed he is running a chain of strip clubs.
Justice of the Peace Steven Hutchins, 34, became one of the youngest magistrates in Britain when he was sworn in for Medway, Kent, in 2007.
But last month it was revealed he is involved in the much racier businesses of running Aaron P Stone Group, which owns strip clubs.
He defended his dual role as operations manager with the strip firm by saying it is important to “have a broad spectrum of life experience”.
But Mr Hutchins has now temporarily stepped down from magistrate court duties amid concerns of a conflict of interest.
It is understood a senior judge intervened after Mr Hutchins’ strip club role came to light.
The issue was then referred to the local Advisory Committee which will consider whether there a full investigation should be launched.
It was not clear exactly which aspect of Mr Hutchin’s professional and public life was being looked at.
His decision comes after his company recently applied to open a new strip club in Maidstone, which has been met with strong opposition.
A statement from the Judicial Office, who represent magistrates and judges, said: “Mr Hutchins has not been suspended but has voluntarily refrained from sitting for the time being.
“The matter is being referred to the local Advisory Committee to consider whether a conduct investigation is appropriate.”
Aaron P Stone Group run a number of different venues including Tenshi Gentlemen Nights which is a strip bar with a Japanese theme.
On their website it states: “Come and visit us for an evening of pleasure and enjoy our hospitality where we will make you feel at home”
Aaron P Stone also run boxing nights, mixed martial arts events and X-rated comedy nights.
Mr Hutchins’ double life emerged after a Maidstone Borough Council meeting in October where his latest proposal for a fully nude lap dancing nightclub was rejected.
The council received more than 120 letters of objection against the club – which would have had private booths and nude pole dancing – from local residents.
Building work has halted on the new club in Maidstone but Mr Hutchins said the company may appeal the decision.
Defending the proposal Mr Hutchins told the meeting on October 22: “We’re not here to discuss moral concerns.”
When asked after the meeting if he used the sexual services on offer at his establishments, Mr Hutchins said: “Not really.
“I go and visit other venues – you become a bit anaesthetised to it after time.”
Mr Hutchins added that his involvement with strip clubs had no impact on his role as a magistrate.
He added: “If there was any conflict of duty I have to report it.
“This is not about morals, this is about law.”
He has also defended his duel role, saying, ”It’s important in law that you have a broad spectrum of life experience – and that’s why you sit on a panel of three (magistrates).”
Hutchins applied to open a strip club – complete with private booths and nude pole dancing – which would be open until 6am seven days a week.
Hutchins argued that evidence showed sex entertainment venues attract less anti-social behaviour and crime than normal nightclubs.
He told the council meeting the sex club would be on the upper floor of a larger nightclub and would not be advertised outside.
Speaking after the October 22 council meeting he said: “I’m very disappointed with the decision and feel our application has been misunderstood by the public, press and the council.
“I can confirm work has ceased on the whole project, resulting in the lay off of the work force and preventing future employment at what would have been a great entertainment centre for Maidstone.
“We will consider an appeal once we have the reason for refusal from the council.”
Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre who led the fight against the club, said: “We are delighted with the council’s decision which proves that it is possible for lap dancing licences to be challenged successfully, and that councils recognise the harm and risks posed by permitting sex establishments to run in their city centres.”
Local Sam Greening, 42, said: “It’s a bit odd that a magistrate was behind plans to open a strip club.
“You wouldn’t really put those two jobs together – and I’m glad it’s not opening, there’s enough sleaze around without having it in your face in the town centre.”
Mr Hutchins, from Gillingham, Kent, began his career working for the family corporate entertainment business in Leicester.
After working all over the country for a national leisure company, he took up the post of deputy manager at Amadeus Nightclub in Medway Valley Leisure Park in Kent.
Mr Hutchins became general manager at the popular venue and met Aaron Stone, owner of the club and the Casino Rooms, Rochester, Kent.
He then took on the role of administration and compliance manager for the Aaron P Stone Group.
The Aaron P Stone Group own Circus Tavern Entertainment Complex in Essex which runs a gentlemen’s night offering a complementary first dance.
Mr Hutchins also became operations manager of the Safer Medway Partnership launched in partnership with Kent Police and Medway Council.
He applied to be a magistrate after spotting an advert in a newspaper and downloaded the application forms after hearing a group of teenagers making a nuisance of themselves in the street.
Speaking in 2007 when Mr Hutchins was made magistrate, he said: “I wanted to do something for the community that I live and work in.
“I’m hoping that me doing this will help raise awareness and encourage more young people to consider being a magistrate.
“There are a lot of people who are quick to complain but they don’t want to do anything to help. This is my way of doing my bit.”
Mr Hutchins refused to comment.
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