London

Travellers refused entry to north London pub

JD Wetherspoons Coronet
Image caption The incident happened at the Coronet on Holloway Road after the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain (ITMB) conference

A body representing Irish Travellers is taking legal action after delegates at its annual conference were refused entry to a north London pub.

The incident happened at the Coronet on Holloway Road after the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain (ITMB) conference on Thursday afternoon.

The group of 15 people who were denied entry included travellers, a police inspector, a barrister and a priest.

Pub owners JD Wetherspoons have denied allegations of racial discrimination.

The company said it refused the delegates entry because they were in a large group.

The ITMB said the pub has been used in the past by its staff, friends and other users of the building it is based in.

But at approximately 16.50 GMT a group including the ITMB's director and chair, the head of diversity at Cheshire Constabulary, Inspector Mark Watson, and Martin Howe, senior partner of Howe and Co were prevented from entering the pub by doormen.

It was only when Inspector Watson produced his police identity card that the doormen allowed entrance to speak to the manager - and only on condition that he be responsible for the group going to speak to the manager.

'Direct discrimination'

ITMB said it has instructed Howe & Co Solicitors to take a class action against the Coronet, under discrimination legislation.

"This was a clear case of direct discrimination against those who were prevented from entering the Coronet.

"ITMB are outraged by this blatant act of discrimination against members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities, their friends and colleagues," it said.

JD Wetherspoon's chief executive, John Hutson, said the company would be happy to co-operate with any investigation.

"We fully support the manager and staff at The Coronet pub," he added.

"A group of 15 Irish Travellers came to the pub at the same time and they were refused entry because of the size of the group.

"It is unfair and wrong to make out that the manager and his staff have been racially motivated - instead they were ensuring the safety of customers and staff at the pub."

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that no complaint had been received.

"We are aware of allegations reported in the Irish Times newspaper and await the allegations to be referred to the Metropolitan Police Service, where upon it will be investigated as appropriate."

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