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Disabled man refused service in pub

Ross Wilson
Ross Wilson Image credit:

A Weatherspoon pub in Edinburgh has been slammed for refusing to serve a disabled customer because they thought he was drunk.

Ross Wilson, 35, who has cerebral palsy, was humiliated at the Alexander Graham Bell in George’s Street on Wednesday August 3.

His mother Karen, who accompanied her son to the pub, claims one of the staff “smirked” when she explained Ross has mobility problems and a learning disability which is why he seemed off-balance.

Karen, 62, told the Daily Record: “I don’t want anyone else to experience what Ross did. I want something put in place to ensure it doesn’t, such as a wristband that a disabled person could wear.

“I tried to explain Ross’ condition but the worker wasn’t interested. It’s heartbreaking that he’s treated like this. He was humiliated.”

Karen had arranged to meet her eldest son in the pub.

She said: “The boys had a couple of glasses of lager. Ross walks with an ataxic gait and has visited the toilet a few times. My eldest son went to the bar around 7.30pm to get their last drink before we caught the train home to Newtongrange but was refused because the bar manager stated that Ross was drunk.

“Sean explained that Ross has cerebral palsy but the manager was dismissive and showed no understanding whatsoever.

“We were all angered by this disgraceful attitude and before we left I went to talk to him. I reiterated the fact that Ross had a disability and walked with what is called an ataxic gait, but wasn’t drunk.

“I also made him aware that I was a teacher and was well aware of the equalities act and that this was clearly discrimination. He just smirked and refused to give me his name when I told him I was going to make a formal complaint.”

The staff then refused to serve Karen’s oldest son after believing Ross had had too much to drink.

Karen lodged a formal complaint against the pub.

She wrote: “My eldest son and myself had to explain that my son Ross had a disability, after the management refused to serve my eldest son stating that his brother was drunk.

“This was the manager’s perception from watching him make his way to the toilet. He did not communicate with him, he just made an arrogant, presumptuous, disgraceful judgement.

“The manager didn’t communicate with me; he just smirked. He had also indicated to the bouncer to come over. The only communication from him was to refuse to give me his name when I stated I was making an official complaint.

"I made it clear I would be getting in touch with both my MP and the Government due to their blatant lack of understanding around equality and discrimination.

“I look forward to hearing how you intend to remedy this situation, and comply with the 2010 equalities act, for all your customers with a range of disabilities.” 

Despite receiving a reply Karen said the pub chain was “not in the least bit apologetic”.

“I got a ridiculous response back from their customer services department saying they are satisfied with the way Ross was treated and that he was refused a drink because I was intoxicated,” she said.

“I’m teetotal and had two coffees and a soda and lime that day. It’s ridiculous”.

The response read: “Having looked into the matter we can conclude that your son was refused service based on the member of staff’s genuine belief that you were intoxicated.

“We are satisfied that this action would be taken with any customer, in these circumstances. I have noted your comments of disappointment with how the matter was addressed.

"I can assure you your comments and observations have been passed to the Area Manager to review and take any necessary action. Thank you again for contacting us. We hope you will visit us again soon”.

Unhappy with the reply Karen said:“They completely missed the point of my complaint and actually implied it was me that was drunk.

“They’ve got a cheek to say they hope we will visit again soon. I won’t be back in any of their premises for the despicable way they treated my son. It’s pure discrimination and I intend to make sure it never happens again to anyone with a disability.”

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "Wetherspoon apologises for any inconvenience or upset caused to Mr Wilson during his recent visit to The Alexander Graham Bell, Edinburgh.

"Having investigated the matter with the management team, the pub staff mistook the customers symptoms as possible signs of intoxication.

"Pub staff have a responsibility under licensing laws not to serve alcohol if it is felt that a customer is already intoxicated.

"Mr Wilson was refused service on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 due to the member of staff's genuine belief at the time that he was intoxicated. When the member of staff was advised that Mr Wilson suffered from cerebral palsy, he apologised for any upset caused.

"The company wishes to echo the apologies provided by the pub team on the day and by the company’s customer services team on Friday, August 5.

"Wetherspoon places great importance on its pubs being welcoming places for all customers and looks forward to Mr Wilson and his family returning as customers in the future."

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