THE owners of a new bar have defended their decision to install a CCTV camera in the men’s toilets.

A customer complained to The Gazette after spotting the camera in the toilet at Pure Lounge Bar which opened in Wote Street, Basingstoke last month.

Andrew Brown, 30, from Cranbourne Lane, Basingstoke said: “It’s the one place you don’t expect to be filmed. I didn’t realise you were allowed to put up a camera in a toilet, especially in the men’s toilet where you have urinals. It’s an invasion of privacy.”

But Ernie Phelps, the bar’s general manager and one of the owners, said the camera was necessary because of vandalism.

He said in the first week of operation, customers snapped off an expensive sink tap in the gents’ lavatories.

He explained: “We have got one camera facing the sink, nowhere else. It’s to try to stop vandalism.

“We have spent a lot of money on the business and we have nice customers coming in, and it was someone slipping through the net. It couldn’t have been an accident.

“We had more vandalism last weekend when someone scratched their name in there. It’s annoying.”

Mr Phelps said the urinals were not in view of the camera, but admitted he should have sought advice before installation.

He said the images would only be viewed if an incident occurred.

He added: “We are doing our bit to stop crime and disorder.”

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of the Big Brother Watch, a pressure group opposed to the extension of CCTV, claimed the camera was only legal if the bar could justify it in terms of tackling drug dealing or violence, and should put up signs warning customers they are being filmed.

He added: “There can be no justification for putting CCTV cameras in toilets. Regardless of the legality, there is a law of common decency that ought to be adhered to when it comes to public toilets.”