Campaigners demand 'strong public statement' from BBPA over Andrew Griffiths apology

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Disgraced minister: female stakeholders in the beer industry have called for Brigid Simmonds to condemn Andrew Griffiths MP
Disgraced minister: female stakeholders in the beer industry have called for Brigid Simmonds to condemn Andrew Griffiths MP
A group of female stakeholders in the beer and pub industry have written to Brigid Simmonds asking her to issue a “strong public statement” condemning Andrew Griffiths MP and demanding he apologise to the two pub workers he sent explicit messages to.

The letter, seen by The Morning Advertiser​, was sent to British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Simmonds on 17 July, just days after MP Andrew Griffiths quit his post​ as small business minister after the Sunday Mirror​ revealed he had sent more than 2,000 messages to two female bar staff in his constituency via social media in June and early July.

The letter said: “As a woman leading the British Beer & Pub Association, you will have been as horrified as we are at the disgusting and degrading treatment of two female pub workers by Andrew Griffiths MP, MP for Burton-on-Trent and, at the time, a business minister.

“As you know, female bar staff are all-too-often seen somehow as ‘fair game’ for verbal abuse and sexual harassment by sleazy, predatory men and much more must be done by those in the pub industry to stamp out this attitude and ensure that all women working hard in our pubs up and down the country are treated with respect. We are writing to you as women in the pub sector, on behalf of women working in the sector.”

Hollow apology

Griffiths has apologised to his family and local Conservative association for his conduct but the authors of the letter deemed this “a hollow apology” as they claimed he had failed to apologise to the two bar staff involved for the “derogatory and sexist way” he treated them.

The letter highlights Griffiths's defence of beer names and pump clips deemed to be sexist as evidence of “casual sexism” that “must be stamped out”.

The letter concludes with a series of demands, including that Simmonds publicly condemn the former small business minister for his conduct and that the BBPA chief tell Griffiths “he is not fit to be involved in this sector in any way”.

A personal matter

Simmonds’ response, seen by The Morning Advertiser​, states that she sees the matter, which has been referred to the Conservative Party’s internal procedures by Griffiths himself, as a “personal matter” and would not issue further comment.

Simmonds wrote: “In my time at the BBPA, we have always been supportive of work and initiatives to combat any form of harassment in pubs, as the safety and wellbeing of staff is of paramount importance. The Drinkaware Crew programme and Ask Angela​ supported by Pubwatch are but two examples of this, as is the work we have done across the alcohol and retail trade associations to protect staff from harassment or violence.

“Andrew Griffiths was an effective chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group but he has rightly resigned his ministerial position and referred himself to the Conservative Party's internal procedures. I consider this a personal matter and would not wish to comment further.”

Signatories to the letter sent to Simmonds include Inez Ward, founder of Justice for Licensees and vice-chair of the British Pub Confederation; Val Spencer, a member of the British Pub Confederation steering group; Olivia Tyler, licensee of the Globe Sports Lounge & Kitchen in Cowes, Isle of Wight, and Fair Pint Campaign campaigner; Dawn Hopkins, a member of the British Pub Confederation steering group; and Carol Ross, licensee of the Roscoe Head in Liverpool, and a member of the British Pub Confederation steering group.

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