JD Wetherspoon deny EDL ban

A NATIONAL pub chain has denied rumours that it has banned members from an anti-Muslim extremism organization from drinking in its pubs.

JD Wetherspoon claimed that it does not ban individuals from its pubs whether it agrees with their political views or not.

It issued a statement after Manchester Mouth received a report from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) which claimed that members of the English Defence League (EDL) had been banned from the pub chain.

However, Wetherspoons did confirm that it would rather shut its pubs than become host to racist rallies.

A letter from the pub chain that was sent to a customer who complained about the EDL frequenting Wetherspoons in Stoke read: “We have been asked by the police to allow people to meet due to the size of our establishments and their reputation for being well managed pubs.

“In such circumstances we have been obliged to comply, however, we are concerned that some customers have interpreted our approach of Police co-operation as evidence of the company holding a specific political standpoint.

“Given the feedback that we have received we have taken the decision to review our approach to future police requests. I can confirm that going forwards it will be our preference to close the pub rather than inadvertently becoming host to such an event.”

Speaking to Manchester Mouth a spokesperson from Wetherspoons said that individual customers, whether they are EDL members or not, will be allowed into its pubs and that its establishments will only be closed as a result of a disturbance.

Last month Stoke police asked a Wetherspoons pub in Hanley to allow EDL supporters to meet before their protest march. Here’s a link to the meeting on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0CZnqhtyKQ&feature=related.

“When I saw the EDL rally in a Stoke Wetherspoons on YouTube it looked like a scene from a beer hall in Germany at the time of Hitler,” said Mark Krantz, leader of UAF in the North West.

“A chill went down my back. I wrote to Wetherspoon to complain, lots of people did. I was so pleased when I got a letter from them saying in future they would close their pub to the EDL.

“I’m now very surprised and angry that they are going to allow EDL members to gather in their pubs prior rallies – just before they go on to attack ethnic minorities. I will be certainly writing to them again.”

An EDL statement said: “We have spoken to Wetherspoons and they are delighted for us to frequent any Wetherspoons public house anywhere in the land.”

The EDL, who claims that it is not racist but anti-Islamic extremism, is now planning to hold a non-violent protest in Bolton on Saturday 20 March 2010.

However, during its rally in Manchester in October 2009 50 people were arrested and more than 90 were arrested when EDL protested in Birmingham. In both cases it was not clear whether the violence was started by the EDL or by the individuals and organisations that oppose it.

UAF also claimed that: “When the EDL came to Stoke in January, the words ‘Islam Scum’ and ‘EDL’ were daubed on a local Mosque.”

To read Manchester Mouth’s earlier stories about the EDL click here.

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