Licensees reassured over travellers row

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Discrimination

Publicans should not be panicked into serving known troublemakers following the recent court ruling that "No Travellers" signs are illegal, police...

Publicans should not be panicked into serving known troublemakers following the recent court ruling that "No Travellers" signs are illegal, police have warned.

PC David Bithell, licensing officer for Bedford police, says he has being contacted by a number of publicans in his area who were worried they could no longer refuse to serve people known for drunken or violent behaviour.

The court found that the signs contravened race discrimination laws but PC Bithell is keen to reassure licensees that they still retain the right to refuse service on non-discriminatory grounds.

He said: "One licensee, who has had real trouble with travellers from a site very near his pub, phoned me in a real panic.

"I told him he is perfectly within his rights to refuse to serve either individuals or groups of people with whom he has had trouble before, or whom he has good reason to believe could get him into difficulties with the law."

PC Bithell added: "Obviously, if he's asked for a reason for refusing, he shouldn't give one which is discriminatory on the grounds of race, gender or disability."

Pubs have been taking down No Travellers signs after the Central London County Court ruled in August that a sign in a Punch pub discriminated against the Irish.

Punch's decision not to contest the ruling means it sets a legal precedent.

Thepublican.com's legal correspondent David Clifton said: "There is absolutely no legal requirement for a publican to give a reason for refusing to serve someone. It's private property and the management has the right to refuse.

"Although it might be considered good practice to give a reason, there are some circumstances, such as where someone is violent or causing trouble, when it would be ridiculous to expect to have to explain."

Customers still have the right to challenge the licensee's decision.

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