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Landmark ruling against Gypsy and Traveller discrimination

22 May 2015

A legal ruling this week has implications for crimes and discrimination against Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

In November 2011 the Traveller Movement (a registered charity that supports Irish Travellers) held its annual conference on Holloway Road in London. Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick attended alongside other members of the national police working group on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller issues.

Following the event, several delegates, including a then serving Cheshire Police Inspector and a number of Irish Travellers and English Romani Gypsies, tried to visit a nearby J D Wetherspoon public house, but were turned away because they had come from the Traveller conference.

18 delegates and The Traveller Movement subsequently brought a race discrimination claim against J D Wetherspoon. On Monday 18 May, the Court found that the pub chain had breached the Equality Act 2010 in the racially discriminatory way in which it had refused service to the Travellers and those seeking to enter the pub with them.

In paragraph 149 of his judgment, His Honour Judge Hand QC explained that the thinking of Wetherspoons was:

“Suffused with the stereotypical assumption that Irish Travellers and English Gypsies cause disorder wherever they go. In my judgment this is racial stereotyping of those with that ethnic origin. It can be reduced to this crude proposition: whenever Irish Travellers and English Gypsies go to public houses violent disorder is inevitable because that is how they behave”

Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers said:

“The prejudice against Gypsies and Travellers is sadly endemic in society and is often fuelled by stereotypes in the media. People subjected to hate-related incidents all too often put up with such behaviour and accept it as the norm but the Traveller Movement and others – including the police – have taken a stand in this case and have won the argument. Hopefully this shows those subjected to discrimination – and from a policing perspective, those subjected to hate crime – that they don’t need to tolerate this and that we are here for you.”

The full judgment can be found using the following link: