Kent

Kent property tycoon investigated over 'disgusting remarks'

Fergus Wilson
Image caption Fergus Wilson has almost 1000 buy-to-let properties in Kent

A property mogul is being investigated by the equalities watchdog over remarks about people renting properties.

In an email from Fergus Wilson to his letting agency, leaked to The Sun, he banned "coloured" people from renting his homes "because of the curry smell".

Rebecca Hilsenrath, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the remarks were "truly disgusting" as well as unlawful.

Mr Wilson said it was "not a colour issue" but an "economic judgement".

Speaking to BBC Asian Network, Mr Wilson, who has amassed nearly 1,000 buy-to-let properties in Kent, said a property he had bought from an Indian couple cost him about £12,000 because the curry smell became a "massive problem" and he was forced to rip up the carpet and take the house off the market for six months.

"If that makes me racist, that makes 99% of people who buy houses racist," he said.

"How many white people are going to go into a house that smells of curry and are going to buy [it]?"

'Deep inequalities'

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating and says it will seek legal action where necessary.

Ms Hilsenrath said: "There are still deep inequalities in our society as our race report demonstrated and these comments show why.

"As a country we all assume we have left the dark ages behind, but clearly there is more to be done.

"We will investigate and will be asking Mr Wilson to explain his actions. Unless we are satisfied that he will not break the law in the future we will take legal action".

Kent Police also said it was working to establish if any offences had taken place.

In the past, Mr Wilson evicted all 200 of his housing benefit tenants, saying he would rather have "migrants as tenants than people on benefits".

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