On 27 February 2015 a group of Irish Travellers went into Cambridge to celebrate the birthday of two of their group and the birth of a daughter to another member of the group. At approximately 18:50 three men approached the doors of the Tivoli pub and were refused entry by two doormen engaged by Wetherspoons. The manager came out and confirmed they were barred from entering the pub. At first the doormen and manager claimed that they were barring their entry because of a claimed ‘Bookings Policy’ for the night. The 3 men, who had previously used the pub, had never heard of a bookings policy for a pub on a Friday night. When one asked could they book they were told they could not as they had not ‘pre-booked’, even though the manager admitted that patrons could only learn of the need to book from the bouncers on the door of the pub! The manager then openly admitted that he was not allowing them entry because they were’ Travellers’ saying that he was expecting trouble that evening. Apparently there had been a funeral earlier in the day of a member of the Gypsy community in the Cambridge area.
Wetherspoons started to investigate the incident when put on notice of the alleged race discrimination in a letter of 11 March 2015 from Howe & Co Solicitors who act for the 3 men. Wetherspoons finally admitted full liability and responsibility for the acts of their doormen and manager in an open letter of admission and apology dated 28 May 2015 sent to Howe & Co
This is the second time within a month that Wetherspoons has had to pay out substantial damages and costs for unlawful race discrimination against Irish Travellers. Howe & Co has represented the Travellers in both cases.
On 18 May 2015 His Honour Judge Hand QC gave judgment in another case against Wetherspoons for race discrimination against Irish Travellers and English Gypsies and associates. The judge found the thinking of the manager (since deceased) of the Wetherspoons’ Coronet pub in North London in November 2011, inferred from the evidence, to be
“suffused with the stereotypical assumption that Irish Travellers and English Gypsies cause disorder wherever they go. In my judgment this is racial stereotyping of those with that ethnic origin. It can be reduced to this crude proposition: whenever Irish Travellers and English Gypsies go to public houses violent disorder is inevitable because that is how they behave”
The Court found that the pub chain had breached the Equality Act 2010, in the racially discriminatory way in which it had refused service to the Travellers and those seeking to enter the pub with them. This new case in Cambridge is an apparent repeat of the same type of behaviour.
Martin Howe, partner at Howe and Co Solicitors, said:
“Pubs, clubs, restaurants, shops and all those who provide services to the public need to learn that it is no longer acceptable to make stereotypical assumptions about Irish Travellers and Romani Gypsies. Racial stereotyping, that is only too prevalent, is repugnant and unlawful. It seems that Wetherspoons has a problem they must get to grips with very urgently. Those who continue to treat Travellers less favourably than they would treat others will face the legal consequences of paying out large sums in compensation, paying costs and suffering serious damage to their reputations. The last bastion of ‘acceptable racism is dead ”.
Martin Howe – partner – Howe & Co Solicitors – 020 8840 4688
Kieran O’Rourke – partner – Howe & Co Solicitors – 020 8840 4688
David Enright – partner – Howe & Co Solicitors – 0208 840 4688
Howe & Co Solicitors, 1010 Great West Road, Brentford, Middx, TW8 9BA
29 May 2015