Travellers’ racism case heard in court after Holloway pub allegedly refuses group entry

The Coronet, in Holloway Road Pic: Google maps

The Coronet, in Holloway Road Pic: Google maps - Credit: Archant

One of Britain’s biggest pub chains is being sued to the tune of £100,000 by a group of travellers who say they suffered “direct race discrimination” at a Holloway boozer.

The Irish Traveller Movement in Britain had met for their annual meeting adjacent to J D Wetherspoon’s Coronet pub, in Holloway Road, in 2011.

When they tried to go next door for drinks, they claim the doormen told them that they “were not allowing travellers or people from the traveller conference to enter”.

The group is seeking a declaration that they were the victims of racism, up to £100,000 in damages and a public apology.

But J D Wetherspoon denies discrimination and says the pub’s entrance policy in force on the day had “nothing to do with race”.

Marc Willers QC, for the group, told Central London County Court: “They treated them less favourably than others because the claimants were Irish travellers, or associated with Irish travellers.”

Mr Willers said that one of the delegates, Inspector Watson, who was then a serving officer, produced his warrant card to one of the bouncers and asked if the manager would explain what was going on.

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However he said a third doorman appeared and explained entry was being refused because of “problems after the traveller conference last year”.

The group were eventually allowed into the pub – on condition that Inspector Watson “vouch for” and “keep an eye” on them.

Summing up the pub company’s defence, Mr Willers said: “Wetherspoon’s contends that the doormen acted professionally throughout, informed the claimants to whom they spoke that the doormen were not permitting large groups to enter The Coronet, and that race had nothing to do with that entrance policy.”

Judge Hand has now reserved his decision on the case until a later date, following a 13-day hearing.