Rastafarian thrown out of Islington pub with ban on hats

A RASTAFARIAN whose religion forbids him from taking off his beret in public was thrown out of a pub because of its “no hats” policy – even though he had phoned ahead to check it would be OK.

Father-of-three Greg Augustin is so used to getting hassle for his headwear that he called The Vineyard, in Upper Street, Islington, before his friend’s 43rd birthday bash to make sure he would be allowed in.

He explained that the hat was part of his religion – in the same way that Sikhs wear turbans – and his friend also spoke to the pub three times that day about the dress code.

Despite the venue’s strict ban on headwear, Mr Augustin says he was assured they would make an exception, but just minutes after he arrived he was on the way back out.

He said: “I went in with my friends and we ordered the first round when suddenly the bouncer and the manager came over and said unless I took off the hat we had to leave.

“I tried to explain that I’d been told it was fine when I’d phoned earlier that day, but they would not listen at all. They didn’t even want to let us finish our drinks. It was embarrassing, humiliating and completely out of order.”

Mr Augustin and his friends left shortly afterwards and are now boycotting the pub, but are disgusted at the way they were treated.

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“As a Rasta you get problems with lots of venues because people don’t accept our religion,” said Mr Augustin, who moved from the Angel to Kilburn a year ago.

“We come with nothing but love but we experience a lot of hate and it’s very distressing.

“If the pub had told me when I called we would have just gone somewhere else or I could have wrapped my hair up in a turban like the Sikhs do. But I can’t just take off my hat.

“People don’t realise that this is my religion and if you have beliefs you have to stick to them.

“I would not bow down to the Pope so I’m certainly not going to bow down to these people.”

Mr Augustin’s friend, Amanda Richards, 40, a mum-of-two from Halton Mansions, off Upper Street, who is studying health and social care at City and Islington College, said: “It’s unbelievable really. The manager was rude and aggressive and even swore at us, telling us we were ‘taking the piss’.

“It’s just discrimination. We’re not talking about a baseball cap. Greg’s a proper Rasta and this is something he wears day in day out because of his beliefs.

“I’ve been swimming with him and he wears a cap over it because he won’t take it off.”

A spokeswoman for The Vineyard said: “The manager of the Vineyard operates a ‘no hat’ policy. We apologise to the customer involved for the confusion and if they wish to discuss the matter with the manager they are more than welcome.”