The owner of an award-winning Lake District restaurant has spoken out about a rise in 'dash and dines' and 'blackmail' bad reviews.

Jason Turner, owner of Italian restaurant San Pietro in Windermere, felt compelled to speak out on social media following a recent incident at a fellow Lake District restaurant. 

He posted his concerns on the businesses' Facebook page regarding a couple that hadn't paid for their meal at the Priest Hole in Ambleside.

READ MORE: Windermere's San Pietro Restaurant crowned best restaurant in England Business Awards

The post referred to 'dine and dash spreading to the lakes'. 

The former Marco Pierre White Chef said: "It's a countrywide problem however we felt the need to highlight it here.

"We have had a number of people who have tried to run without paying however we've always managed to catch them in time. 

"I just feel so sorry for any restaurant that is the victim of a 'dine and dash' - the industry is hard enough at the moment.

"There are a number of other problems that we've had to face as well as people trying to run without paying. 

"We've had a few customers where they will eat around 95% of their meal and leave the very last of it.

"They'll literally leave one thing on the plate, like a potato, and then complain that there was something wrong with their meal and refuse to pay.

"We then have to get in an exchange with them and say that we'll have to call the police if they don't pay.

"They then threaten us with a bad review on TripAdvisor - almost like blackmail as they know that it just needs a few fake reviews on the site to knock the ratings down - and some have just gone ahead and done it, it really sickens me."

The Westmorland Gazette: Bernard McDonagh, left, and Ann McDonaghA couple was fined £1,000 after they 'dined and dashed' at five restaurants using their children to walk out on bills of totalling more than that amount. 

CCTV footage of Bernard McDonagh, 41, and his wife Ann McDonagh, 39, from Port Talbot, went viral last month.

Ann McDonagh, who also admitted thefts from two supermarkets and obstructing or resisting a police officer, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, while her husband was given eight months.

In reference to this case, Jason added: "I was pleased to see this happen and hopefully it will be a deterrent to others and people will be less likely to do it."