JD Wetherspoon pays out in second Irish Traveller discrimination case

JD Wetherspoon pays out in second Irish Traveller discrimination case

BRITISH pub chain JD Wetherspoon has paid out thousands of pounds in a second discrimination case involving Irish Travellers.

The pub chain came under fire just a few weeks ago when it was forced to pay out £24,000 to a group of Irish Travellers – and now it has been forced to hand out another £10,500 for similar discrimination claims.

The latest case came to light in Cambridge, where staff at The Tivoli pub refused entry to three members of the Travelling community in February – after they had attended the funeral of another Traveller.

The case was settled on Friday, with the chain being forced to pay out £3,500 to each of the Travellers - totalling £10,500.

The group decided to pursue JD Wetherspoon on discrimination claims following the incident, which arose as the pub chain was settling a similar claim.

The first instance came in November 2011, when a group of Irish Travellers were refused entry to The Coronet on London’s Holloway Road, allegedly based on their ethnicity.

The eight members of the Traveller community who were turned away from the pub had been attending a meeting with The Traveller Movement charity, previously known as the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain.

Judge John Hand QC gave judgement on the case last month – finding that pub manager David Leach had made “stereotypical assumptions” about Irish Travellers contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

“In my judgment this is racial stereotyping of those with that ethnic origin,” Judge Hand said. “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.”

JD Wetherspoon PLC was forced to hand out £3,000 to each of the Travellers - £24,000 in total.

Wetherspoon’s chief executive Tim Martin said the chain “did not have a discriminatory motive”.

"We apologise to the three claimants for the embarrassment and distress caused to them and have offered to pay damages to each of them as well as legal costs. There was no intention to discriminate against these individuals," he said.

Mr Martin, who was brought up in New Zealand and the North of Ireland (where he attended one of Ireland’s top schools Campbell College, Belfast) pointed out that since 1979 these are the only two cases brought against the company involving the Travelling Community.

He reiterated that there was no malice intended by the company, and denied that his pub chain had a discriminatory motive.

The chain promised to review its “relevant policies, procedures and training”, following the first ruling in May, apologising to those effected in the process.

"We will be redoubling our efforts to ensure that we, as a company, and our staff, learn from these mistakes," Mr Martin said.