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Pub bans BNP man

Hayley Court | Thursday, 19 July 2007 Source: This is Wiltshire

Pub landlord Mark Foster has refused to serve BNP councillor Michael Simpkins amid fears that his presence would upset regulars.

Mark Foster, landlord of the Hare and Hounds in Pickwick, confirmed he refused to allow the controversial Corsham town councillor to hold a party at the pub last night.

The councillor is now demanding fellow BNP supporters boycott the pub, claiming that he has been discriminated against because of his political beliefs.

However, Mr Foster has defended his decision to refuse the booking, which marked the university graduation of Coun Simpkins' future daughter-in-law.

Mr Foster, 33, said: "As a pub we can reserve the right to serve anyone we choose.

"During the local election there was a great strength of feeling surrounding Mr Simpkins and I felt that his presence would stir up a debate at the pub and that would unsettle our regular customers. We weren't prepared to let that happen."

Coun Simpkins was told he was not welcome in the Hare and Hounds after a family member went into the pub on Monday to confirm the booking.

Mr Foster said the family member has asked whether Coun Simpkins' presence at the pub would be a problem.

He said: "I told her that we would be uncomfortable and Coun Simpkins would not be welcome."

A furious Coun Simpkins said: "This brings to question whether a public house should start to ban people not for what they say or do, but for what they think. Should pub goers now have to declare their political allegiances on entering?"

But Mr Foster strongly denies claims he has issued a blanket-ban to BNP supporters - but merely reserves the right not to serve Coun Simpkins.

He said: "I have not banned the BNP as a party, in fact many of our regulars are BNP members and supporters and have been good customers here.

"The reason we decided not to serve Coun Simpkins is not purely because of his political beliefs but because of the atmosphere we believed it may create in the pub."

BNP chairman for Wiltshire Mike Howson said: "This is discrimination of the lowest kind and this act should be treated with contempt. We are urging all of our voters and those who continue to support us to boycott this establishment."

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