Family refused entry to Doncaster Pizza Express because they’re Travellers

Pizza Express has come under fire for refusing a family of Travellers entry to a branch in Doncaster.

Monday, 22nd April 2019, 16:07 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd April 2019, 16:09 pm
Diane Wilson

Diane Wilson, who is pregnant with twins, was among the group who were turned away from the chain’s Dome leisure centre branch on Herten Way last Friday.

Diane Wilson

She filmed a member of staff telling the group: “I can't allow any of the Traveller community in.”

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In the footage, uploaded to Facebook by the outraged mum, he can be heard saying this was ‘because we’ve had far too much trouble in the past’.

Posting on Facebook, Ms Wilson, who is known as Chick, wrote: “My son David, aged five, tonight asked me what is wrong with being a Traveller. Why can’t we eat pizza? This is not fair.”

The pathway to Pizza Express off Herten Way, in Doncaster (pic: Google)

Ms Wilson, who is 25 and lives in Thorne, has won awards for her charity work, which includes volunteering for the Teenage Cancer Trust and organising a sponsored walk in memory of her late mother, who died of cancer.

A spokeswoman for the restaurant chain said: “PizzaExpress operates a zero tolerance policy on discrimination of any kind and the safety of our customers and team members is paramount.  We urge the customer to get in touch so we may provide further context.

"While no excuse for this customer's experience, further investigation has revealed the manager was acting in accordance with police advice following previous disturbances.

"Our teams can be faced with difficult decisions, and we trust them to use their judgement to the best of their ability though this isn’t always easy. We’d like to apologise unreservedly for any unintentional offence caused to the customer or her family, and we hope to welcome them back soon."

A spokesperson for GATE (Gypsy and Traveller Empowerment), which represents the Traveller community, said: "We are upset by the fact that Pizza Express have said the police advised them to close and they were being compliant.

"This contravenes the equality act and sends a message to the general public that this is legal or appropriate to treat Travellers in this way, simply because they are Travellers.

"It is not legal and we will challenge it every time. Mobile phones have provided a perfect medium with which to gather evidence. We urge all Travellers and Gypsies refused service to report racism."

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “Police were not called and no crime has been recorded. However, as result of contact from third parties a non-crime incident has been recorded in accordance with national recording standards.

“The restaurant had suffered a previous incident at the end of March, which officers attended. No advice was given in regard to the specific exclusion of any group from the premises.

“The company has the right to refuse entry or service, and the decision-making and rationale supporting that refusal is theirs alone.”