According to recent reports, the founder of London’s Bimber distillery has been arrested for conspiracy to murder.

Polish national Lucasz Ratajewski fled his home country 20 years ago and set up a new life in the UK under the name Darius Plazewsk. Ratajewski is now facing extradition to stand trial for conspiracy to murder and distribute drugs, as well as serve a previous three year sentence for possession of a handgun.

Upon his arrest, Ratajewski initially gave his assumed name, before admitting to living under a false identity when shown photographs of himself that were attached to the arrest warrant.

Ratajewski is now set to stand trial of providing an AK-47 rifle and ammunition with the intent to commit murder in 1997 (however, no murder took place). Additionally, he is also accused of conspiracy to supply drugs, including heroin and LSD, with charges dating back to 1998.

Lawyers for Ratajewski had requested that he be granted release on bail, claiming that he left Poland in fear of his life after becoming involved with serious and violent criminals. His lawyers also made the case that detention would have an incredibly negative impact on both his family and his business, which in turn would also affect the lives of his employees.

However this request was denied; a barrister representing the Polish regional court claimed that he initially fled the country knowing he had to serve his sentence from 2003 and that he can’t be trusted to not go on the run again. Justice Farley agreed, adding that “his continued detention [is] proportionate in light of the seriousness of the index offences and his past conduct.”

When he arrived in the UK in 2004, Ratajewski worked in property development and construction before setting up Bimber distillery in 2015. The London distillery produced a number of spirits before releasing it’s inaugural single malt in 2019 - the first malt whisky produced in England’s capital in over 100 years.

Not long after, construction was completed on Ratajewski’s Scottish distiller, Dunphail. Production commenced at the site in October 2023.

What this news means for Bimber and Dunphail going forward remains to be seen. In May, a magistrate will make a decision on whether or not Ratajewski will extradited to face these charges.

Given the gravity of the accusations it feels somewhat glib to focus too heavily on the whisky side of this story. Nevertheless, the judge’s decision is going to have consequences that go further than just impacting Ratajewski’s personal life, and the future of one of England’s most lauded whisky distilleries will no doubt be affected.