Wetherspoons discriminated against Irish Travellers

Monday 18 May 2015

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Marc Willers QC and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers were instructed by Howe and Co to represent the Traveller Movement.

On 17 November 2011 the Traveller Movement held its annual conference at the Resource Centre on Holloway Road. At the end of the conference the delegates were invited to carry on their discussions at the Coronet Pub next door. A number of people, including a solicitor, a priest and a police inspector, Irish Travellers and Romani Gypsies took up that invitation only to be refused entry to the Pub by doormen employed by Wetherspoons on grounds that they had attended the conference!

Having been refused entry, 18 delegates and The Traveller Movement brought a race discrimination claim against Wetherspoons. HHJ Hand QC heard the case and concluded that Wetherspoons' staff had directly discriminated against the Traveller Movement and 8 of the Claimants by refusing them entry to the Pub. When giving judgment HHJ Hand QC said:

"In my judgment the whole of the thinking of [Wetherspoons' Pub Manager], in so far as it can be inferred from the evidential material, was suffused with the stereotypical assumption that Irish Travellers and English Gypsies cause disorder wherever they go.  In my judgment this is a 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."

Martin Howe, partner at Howe and Co Solicitors said:

 “This is a ground breaking case brought under the Equality Act 2010 and a potential game-changer case for numerous Irish Travellers and Romani Gypsies who face incidents of one-off racism on an almost daily basis from service providers.  Prejudice against these often maligned and excluded communities needs to end and this case is important in highlighting the unlawful negative stereotyping faced by Irish Travellers and Romani Gypsies”.    

Marc Willers QC and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers were instructed by Howe and Co to represent the Traveller Movement and the delegates. Marc Willers QC and Owen Greenhall are members of the Garden Court Chambers Romani Gypsi and Traveller Rights team.

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