Laine Pub Co issues heartfelt apology after disability row

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Lessons learned: Laine Pub Co will begin awareness training
Lessons learned: Laine Pub Co will begin awareness training

Related tags Mash tun Understanding

Laine Pub Company boss Gavin George has issued a heartfelt apology after one of his sites came under fire on social media by a mother who claimed her disabled daughter was “thrown out”.

Jenny Skelton and her daughter Charlie visited the Mash Tun in Brighton, East Sussex, owned by The Laine Pub Company to listen to the music after going for a meal in the city.

She stated on her Facebook​ post, which has been shared more than 1,000 times, that the pub had thrown her daughter out after she had crouched on the floor and covered her ears with her hands due to a sudden burst of loud music which had startled her while they were being served.

Insensitive and wrong

Gavin George said he was extremely sorry to hear of the mother and daughter’s experience, and explained the pubco's guidance on disability awareness was not followed.

He issued a heartfelt apology for the 'insensitive and wrong' way the incident was handled, and assured the customer they're always welcome in the company's pubs.

He said: “At the core of our company is the belief that inclusivity and accessibility are fundamental characteristics of popular and well-run pubs. We expect high standards of customer service to be delivered by our pub management partners and the staff they employ.  

“We recognise that staff are called on to make decisions while under pressure in busy, loud and highly regulated environments – sadly, on this occasion, the decision was wrong. Our guidance on disability awareness was not followed by the staff concerned, and refusal was made on the basis of a misjudgement around licensing obligations and duty of care. 

“While no premeditation or malice was involved with the decision, it was wrong and badly handled. The manager has apologised unreservedly to Jenny for the distress and hurt this incident has caused her and Charlie, and has brought in a local user-led charity called Enable Me to work with his team to enhance awareness of disability.

“Jenny has kindly also agreed to input to this work. I have apologised personally to Jenny and offered to meet to help put things right with her and Charlie.”

George also explained his future plans to champion disability awareness for bar staff: “We are working with disability professionals and groups to not only heighten disability awareness among our staff but to do so against a backdrop of the many regulations that impact the decision-making process in licensed premises.”

Skelton explained: “As I was telling her to stand up, the barman (who said he was the licensee) said she would have to leave. I was shocked and explained that she was disabled, that the music had temporarily scared her but that she was OK now.”

She added the barman insisted she would have to leave because he couldn’t have someone acting in such a way in the pub and said Charlie was not welcome.

Disability awareness

On the Mash Tun Facebook page, general manager ‘Azzy’ posted: “I work really hard to make the Mash Tun a fun, friendly and inclusive pub so I’m devastated that we have fallen short of our usual standards through the actions of a member of my staff. I am trying to contact Jenny and Charlie to express how sorry I am and to see if there is anything at all I can do to make amends. I’ve investigated what went wrong and am reviewing my disability awareness training to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Another post stated: “We have now fully investigated what happened on Sunday evening at the Mash Tun. The staff member concerned and the management team have mutually agreed that the staff member is to leave the Mash Tun with immediate effect. What we understand was a decision based on an interpretation of the licensing laws and vulnerability was ill-judged and has come across as discriminatory.

“It was a terrible mistake we are now attempting to correct so it does not happen again. Huge lessons have been learned and if anything positive can come out of it, we hope our mistake will help raise awareness of these issues.”

Enable Me

The post echoed George’s comments regarding the sessions with user-led charity Enable Me who specialise in disability awareness training.

It also said: “We are doing everything we can to make amends for what has happened. This has truly been a devastating time for everyone involved.

“We ask people to understand there was no premeditation and malice in this incident and we hope we can help Jenny in raising awareness off the back of our truly regrettable mistake. Above all, Charlie – we’re sorry, we’re learning and you’re always welcome.”

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