Justin Hemmes: We turned away Madonna, Ed Sheeran and the Arsenal football team because of Sydney's lockout laws

Madonna – refused a drink in Sydney because she was up too late. Photo: Getty Images

The Merivale hospitality business – the Justin Hemmes-owned company which runs the Ivy and Establishment in Sydney’s CBD – says it has been forced to turn away some of the most famous names in sport and showbiz because of the 1.30am pub curfew.

In an astonishing revelation, the company says in a submission to the NSW government inquiry into licensing laws that it denied entry to global megastars including Madonna, who toured here in March, and Prince, who made a surprise visit in February before his untimely death.

They’re among a Who’s Who of people Merivale’s security have had the embarrassing responsibility of telling they can’t enter the bar because it’s after 1.30am. Among the arguments the Sydney restaurant and bar juggernaut put forward in opposing the lock out was the damage the “nanny state” laws were having on the city’s reputation among some of the world’s most famous celebrities.

Here’s what the company says in its submission:

For example, Merivale venues have had to refuse entry to Grammy Award-winning artists (Madonna, Prince, Drake, Marilyn Manson, Ed Sheeran and the Smashing Pumpkins) and sporting heroes (James Harden, playing members of the Arsenal and Chelsea Football Clubs and British Lions Rugby team), generating negative social media comments.

We asked Merivale who else they’ve had to turn away. They said they were the main celebrities.

NOW READ: Justin Hemmes’ Merivale Group: Sydney is in danger of regulating itself ‘into oblivion’

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