London

Claridge's breastfeeding row: Protest by mothers

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Media captionAbout 25 mothers breastfed their children as part of the protest

Mothers have staged a public breastfeed outside Claridge's Hotel in central London in protest against a woman being told to cover-up while feeding.

Louise Burns, 35, said she was "shocked and appalled" at being asked by the luxury hotel to use a large napkin to cover herself while she breastfed.

The protest's organisers, Free to Feed, wants the hotel to change its policy.

Claridge's said it "embraced" breastfeeding but "urged mothers to be discreet."

'Embarrassed'

The women gathered at the five-star hotel in Mayfair at about 14:00 GMT. BBC reporter Alice Bhandhukravi said about 25 mothers were breastfeeding outside the hotel.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The women say breastfeeding is natural and should not be the cause of trouble for mothers

Katie Pirson, who took part in the protest, said: "I believe my baby has the right to be fed whenever he's hungry.

"I think in 2014 we shouldn't have to worry about how babies are fed, just that they are fed."

Emily Slough, who founded the group after she was called a "tramp" on Facebook for breastfeeding in public, said: "Every time something like this happens, there's an uproar of people who disagree with it.

"So I think it's really important to get the message across and let breastfeeding mothers know they are protected in law to breastfeed where they wish to breastfeed, and that they should do so without any hassle or trouble from anybody else."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The hotel has not commented on the protest
Image copyright PA
Image caption The 2010 Equality Act makes it unlawful for a business to discriminate against a breastfeeding woman.

Emma Bullock, 25, who had helped organise the peaceful protest, arrived at the demo with her 11-month-old daughter Eleanor.

She said: "Breastfeeding is normal and natural. I might not like it if someone chews with their mouth open, but I won't object."

But Lindsay Jardine, 35, said Claridge's had been perfectly right to tell Mrs Burns to cover up.

She said: "If I was eating there I wouldn't want to see someone feeding their baby in front of me. And it's cruel for the babies, being out in such weather."

Claridge's has not yet commented on the protest.

Image copyright Lou Burns
Image caption Louise Burns said the hotel made her use a "ridiculous shroud"

The 2010 Equality Act makes it unlawful for a business to discriminate against a breastfeeding woman.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage got involved in the debate earlier in the week, saying in a radio interview although he has no problem with breastfeeding, businesses could ask mothers to "perhaps sit in a corner".

He added it should be for businesses to decide their own rules but it should be recognised that "some people feel very embarrassed" by breastfeeding in public.

In a later statement, Mr Farage accused the media of misinterpreting him.

He said: "Let me get this clear, as I said on the radio and as I repeat now, I personally have no problem with mothers breastfeeding wherever they want."

A Downing Street spokeswoman said David Cameron "shares the view of the NHS, which is that breastfeeding is completely natural and it's totally unacceptable for any women to be made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding in public".

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