Selfridges attacked for ‘free lunch apology’ to EDL leader Tommy Robinson after race row

  Court appearance: Tommy Robinson arriving at court last week
Court appearance: Tommy Robinson arriving at court last week
Selfridges was facing a backlash today for giving a free lunch to English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson after a shop assistant refused to serve his friend. 

Robinson — a convicted criminal who leads anti-Islam protests that often end in violence — was with a friend who wanted to buy jeans at the Oxford Street store on Monday.

The assistant, Robinson claimed, asked the shopper if he was with the EDL leader, and then said: “F*** off, I am not serving you”.

Robinson — real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon — challenged the staff member, and said he assumed the worker was a Muslim “because he had Mo on his name tag”.

Steak Lunch: Course two of three for Tommy Robinson and friend at Selfridges

Steak Lunch: Course two of three for Tommy Robinson and friend at Selfridges

 The EDL chief filmed part of the ex-change on a mobile and put it online. In the footage, he says: “You won’t serve my friend because he’s friends with me … and I’m in the EDL.” The assistant replies: “You can put me on the camera all you want mate, but I’m not serving you,” and walks off.

Selfridges apologised to Robinson and treated him and his friend to a meal at its Hix restaurant, champagne and caviar bar. It suspended the worker but today confirmed the suspension had been lifted, and said the staff member had “an unblemished record for seven years”.

Robinson, 30, from Luton, later tweeted pictures of the food, which included £25 portions of chargrilled sirloin steak and chips, chocolate cake and ice-cream. He wrote online: “I can’t lie, staff at Selfridges have been brilliant. #fatlads. Complimentary lunch, manager’s a top lad, couldn’t be more apologetic.”

Desert: The pair gorged in free chocolate deserts

Desert: The pair gorged in free chocolate deserts

But scores of people went on Twitter to criticise Selfridges. Many called for a boycott of the store and for Usain Bolt, due to sign books there tomorrow, to cancel. Alice Crossley wrote: “Wow. @selfridges treated a criminal to dinner at Hix. Makes the decision to boycott the store easier. Always preferred Liberty anyway.” Mark Gower said: “Only admiration for the Selfridges shop assistant who refused to serve a man with EDL leader. Shame on you Selfridges.”

Selfridges said an investigation had taken place and the staff member would be back at work “today or tomorrow”. The employee was “not being irrational”, a spokesman said, adding: “The suspension has been lifted. Company policy is everyone is welcome, regardless of what people’s political views are. [The staff member] is now aware of company policy.” Chef Mark Hix confirmed the free meal was granted by Selfridges, not himself.

Robinson, who has assault, drug and public order convictions, said his friend was not associated with the EDL.

Shoppers at Selfridge’s today gave their reaction

Jo Sherren said: “Fair play to the shop worker for standing up for himself. It depends on the situation but if it were me and I didn’t want to serve someone because I really hated them at work I’d probably say to one of my colleagues ‘do you mind serving this guy because I just can’t’.”

And Joshua Oyinlola added: “I don’t agree with the EDL but I think at the end of the day they had a right to be served in there. If they started expressing their views they could obviously be thrown out but if not they should be served.”

From The London Evening Standard . Report by Benedict Moore-Bridger. 19.09.13.


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