CORONAVIRUS shutdown-flouting pub boss Ian Ellis was stripped of his licence after putting lives at risk by keeping his bar open as the pandemic gripped Greenock.

Ellis continued trading at his Cheers premises — a decision which led to drunken violence and shameful headlines — despite being told to close to protect the community.

Now his West Stewart Street cut-price drinking den has been permanently shut down by Inverclyde Licensing Board - who decided unanimously that Ellis is not a fit and proper publican.

Board chairman Ronnie Ahlfeld said: "There were clear breaches of licensing objectives, namely preventing crime and disorder, securing public safety, preventing public nuisance and protecting public health.

"The decision is that the premises licence should be revoked with immediate effect.

"The licence holder is not a fit and proper person to hold a premises licence."

Ellis and his legal representative did not attend yesterday's meeting, which was the first convening of the licensing board in Inverclyde via a remote video link.

He had kept his premises open in brazen defiance of directives from both the UK and Scottish governments to close as COVID-19 swept the country in March.

The deadly disease hit Inverclyde the hardest in Scotland as district seen 112 people lose their lives to the virus — a death rate nearly three times the national average.

Ellis's decision to remain open was branded 'appalling' and 'belligerent' by Inverclyde Council.

There was a booze-fuelled street brawl and ugly melee outside the pub which was picked up by news outlets both nationally and internationally.

Licensing board members were told yesterday how police were called to Cheers at around 6pm on March 21 amid 'numerous' reports that a man who was filming the packed pub on his mobile phone had been assaulted.

Six separate pieces of footage of the incident — with Ellis central in every one — were played to the board, and showed the shocking moment when the assaulted man was pushed over into the middle of the busy road in front on oncoming traffic.

In one piece of dashcam footage, a woman can be heard to gasp in horror as the man was thrown within a few feet of the car she was travelling in.

The meeting heard that police arrived to find the victim with blood on his face and he had been robbed of his phone.

At no time did Ellis identify himself to officers as the owner of the pub, the board was told.

Despite the incident, defiant Ellis opened his pub again the following day, forcing police to seek an emergency closing in order to ensure that he shut his doors.

In a letter to the board, Chief Inspector Paul Cameron stated: "Mr Ellis showed a complete disregard for the health and safety of his staff, his patrons and the community."

Chief Inspector Cameron told the meeting: "It was astounding that he wouldn't take our advice and we had to resort to an emergency closing order, which we consider to be a last resort.

"To have to use this is completely unacceptable."

Inverclyde's licensing standards officer, Roisin Dillon, told the board that Ellis had opened his pub 'in the face of a real public health crisis', adding: "He clearly ignored a strict public health instruction from the government."

At the time, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had said: "You must not consider this vital health advice to be merely optional."

Board member, Councillor John Crowther, noted: "It appeared to me that he (Ellis) made no attempt to stop the violence from erupting."

Ellis was in danger of losing his licence a little more than a year ago after Police Scotland wrote to the licensing board and branded him 'unfit'.

Senior officers cited a catalogue of incidents at the Cheers, which is known for cut price booze, and said that one serious assault victim who had been in the pub needed 120 stitches.

Concerns had also been raised about customers being 'highly intoxicated' and police said there was evidence of drug-taking on the premises.

But Ellis was allowed to keep his licence and issued with a formal written warning about reports of 'over intoxication' at his pub.

It has proved to be his first and last warning from Inverclyde Licensing Board.

Board chairman Councillor Ahlfeld said: "I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of both Police Scotland and our own licensing standards officers in bringing this case to the board's attention."