A RESTAURANT and pub’s booze licence hangs in the balance after a row over social media posts “condoning domestic violence”.

The George Pub and Grill on Stockton High Street faced a two hour-long licensing hearing at Stockton Town Hall on Monday – with everything from sex toys, chilli chicken wings and posts about murder brought up.

But its owner Craig Harker will have to wait five days for a decision from councillors on its premises licence.

MPs condemned the bar this summer over a past post asking whether punters would “punch their ex in the face” for a free parmo or a steak.

Barrister Joan Smith, representing the force and public bodies, told the chamber Mr Harker had shown a “distinct lack of responsibility”.

She also pointed to cases where a council officer had been “named and shamed” on social media.

“This is not about eating competitions, this is not about freedom of speech – this is about responsibilities as a licence holder,” added Ms Smith.

“It’s not a witch hunt and you’ll see that there’ve been many comments on the internet about individuals – this is about ensuring there’s no behaviour that’s offensive, abusive or inappropriate.”

The pub’s page also shared a picture of a council officer which called them a “tosser” and a “d***head”.

And there was similar dismay over posts liked by the George’s Facebook page – including one which read “Just pull an Albert Dryden on them” during a planning row at the pub over a flue.

Mr Dryden murdered a planning officer in County Durham in 1991.

The pub was previously rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017 for the “punch your ex” post, but it posted a similar advert in 2019 because the pub followed “online trends” to attract and keep 100,000 Facebook fans.

Mr Harker claimed the hearing was “politically motivated” and led by Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham as he’d “openly supported different campaigns”.

He added he was just four-years-old in 1991 and had never heard of the Albert Dryden story. Mr Harker said his posts did not condone or trivialise domestic violence, but the “shock factor” of his posts helped attract people to his business.