Islington Council unable to sanction McDonald’s over hijab incident

Islington Council leader Richard Watts had pledged the town hall would consider the 'licensing impli

Islington Council leader Richard Watts had pledged the town hall would consider the 'licensing implications' for McDonald's restaurants in Islington, such as this joint in Pentonville Road, King's Cross. Picture: Ewan Munro/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has been knocked back in its plans to restrict opening hours of McDonald’s restaurants in the borough.

As revealed on the Gazette website this week, council leader Richard Watts had pledged to consider the future of McDonald’s joints in Islington after a woman wearing a hijab was refused service in the Seven Sisters Road branch in Holloway.

But on Tuesday, the leader’s office said a planned review of the late night food licence could not go ahead. It’s because police are not charging the security guard – who has been suspended – with a hate crime, meaning there was not a licensing breach under crime and disorder.

A video of the incident, in which she was told to remove her headscarf by the guard on November 30, was shared thousands of times online.

The franchisee of the Seven Sisters Road restaurant has been suspended from the Nag’s Head Town Centre group.

Cllr Watts, meanwhile, has written to Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s UK, to complain. He said: “It is indefensible that a young woman was intimidated and made to feel unwelcome by McDonald’s employees simply because of her clothing.

“While it is welcome that McDonald’s has apologised and suspended the employee in question, the organisation can do much more. I sincerely hope you will issue a formal apology to both the victim and to the people of Islington, who have been left dismayed and disgusted by this incident. I also insist that you urgently retrain all McDonald’s staff, including sub-contractors, on hate crime awareness so this incident cannot be repeated.

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“Islington stands against hatred in all its forms. I certainly hope that McDonald’s shares these values and will take action to ensure the incident at its Seven Sisters Road restaurant is never repeated, and will issue and full and frank apology to those affected as soon as possible.”