A pub was shut by police after violence broke out at a Christmas party, leaving three doormen injured.

Dozens of officers armed with batons and pepper spray stormed the Stanmer Park Tavern in Fiveways, Brighton, after the brawl broke out between drinkers.

Three doormen were taken to hospital after one was headbutted, another had a chair thrown at the back of his head and a third was hit over the head with a bottle.

Police have ordered the pub to remain closed throughout the festive period, pending a review of its licence in the New Year, following the disturbance on Friday night.

The closure has cost the pub lost trade during its busiest time of year over Christmas and the New Year.

Police were called when trouble broke out while a 50-strong group, who had been drinking earlier in the evening, were enjoying a Christmas party.

Officers were confronted by up to 15 men as bar staff cowered behind the bar. Some staff tried to move glasses and ashtrays to stop them being used as weapons.

Eyewitnesses said up to 25 police arrived to deal with the rowdy drinkers after the brawl, which started when doormen separated two men who had been fighting.

As the door staff escorted the two men from the pub, other drinkers are accused of attacking the bouncers.

Stanmer Park Tavern, on the corner of Ditchling Road and Hollingbury Road, is the latest of several pubs in Brighton and Hove to have its licence revoked under tough licensing laws which came into effect in November 2005.

In July The Toby Inn in Woodingdean permanently lost its licence after two serious outbreaks of violence in a week.

On one occasion a gang wielding baseball bats, sledgehammers and pickaxes attacked drinkers and smashed windows.

In October the Saqqara bar in Bond Street was closed by police for three weeks following a fracas involving about 100 people.

Lee Kennedy, manager of the Stanmer Park Tavern, said Friday night's incident would cost thousands of pounds in lost trade.

He said: "It's the worst time of year for this to happen."

Mr Kennedy, who has worked in pubs since the early Nineties, said that he had been threatened with violence by customers on several occasions during the past month.

About three weeks ago a group of about 50 people refused to leave the pub after time had been called.

He said: "They told me I had to turn a blind eye to the licensing laws and carry on serving them.

"One leaned across the bar and said if he didn't get a drink he would kill me."

Mr Kennedy said on that occasion he called the police and the group was moved on.

He said: "The police said it was my responsibility to remove them from the pub but how can I when there are at least 40 of them and most of them are bigger than me?

"Police can give out fines but I have never seen them used. They just send troublemakers away into the night.

"There is no deterrent to stop these people." Mr Kennedy said that on another occasion a man threatened to smash a glass in his face after being asked to leave.

Mr Kennedy said he was recently threatened by a gang of five men after he caught their friend helping himself to drinks from behind the bar.

The ten-day closure period ends on January 7 but Mr Kennedy said it could continue until January 28.

He said he did not believe closing the pub was a solution to the problem.

Mr Kennedy said: "The pub has been shut but the problem has just been moved somewhere else.

"Friday night's trouble had nothing to do with the locals but they are the ones who will suffer."

The pub has four doormen and CCTV cameras.

It is involved with the city's Crime Reduction Initiative and the Yellow Card Scheme which aims to clamp down on troublemakers in pubs by banning them from 100 bars if they receive three yellow cards for bad behaviour.

Chief Inspector Kerry Cox, of Sussex Police, said: "The Stanmer Park Tavern was closed by police on Friday in the evening following a disturbance.

"The licensee and management of the Stanmer Park Tavern are working with police to ensure in the future the pub will be a safe venue and a valuable resource for the surrounding community."

No one at Sussex Police was available for further comment.

Stanmner Park Tavern is owned by The Spirit Group from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. No one was available for comment.

Three men have been arrested in connection with the incident.