Britain’s equality watchdog has launched an investigation into Pontins, fearing it has failed to eradicate discrimination against Gypsies and Travellers.
Pontins owner Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited reached a 12-month deal with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last year after a whistleblower revealed that the holiday park company had compiled a list of surnames apparently designed to ward off Irish travellers. .
It reportedly refused or canceled bookings from people suspected of being gypsies or travelers because of their name or Irish accent, and used its commercial vehicle policy to exclude them from its sites.
The EHRC said on Thursday it had terminated the agreement with the owner of Pontins on February 18 because it was not satisfied that the company was taking the necessary steps to prevent unlawful racial discrimination or meet its commitments under the agreement.
The commission’s chief executive, Marcial Boo, said: ‘We are concerned that Pontins has illegally deprived Gypsy and Traveler families of the simple pleasure of a holiday. Any business that refuses to provide services to customers because of their race or ethnic group is likely to be in breach of the Equality Act.
“We signed a legally binding agreement with Pontins last year. We expected this to address our concerns about discriminatory behavior. The company’s failure to comply with the law has left us with no choice but to use stronger enforcement powers to investigate further.
“The EHRC will continue to use all legal powers at its disposal to ensure that no one experiences racism, whether at a holiday park or elsewhere, simply because of their name, ethnicity or community to which he belongs.”
Refusing to provide services to customers because they belong to a certain race or ethnic group is illegal under the Equality Act 2010, which recognizes Gypsies and Travelers as a distinct racial group. When details of the Pontine blacklist were first reported by the i, the EHRC compared it with “signs posted in hotel windows 50 years ago explicitly banning Irish and black people “.
The investigation, which is expected to take months, will examine whether Pontins has racially discriminated against gypsy and traveler guests or potential guests in the past. It will also consider whether its reservation policies and intelligence, information and record-keeping systems directly or indirectly discriminate on the basis of race.
One of the things the EHRC will be looking at in terms of reservation policies is the requirement for guests or potential guests to be on the electoral register.
Travelers Movement chief executive Yvonne MacNamara welcomed the official investigation and said Pontins had been set “an extremely low bar” in its deal with the EHRC.
“All they had to do was not to commit unlawful acts of discrimination when providing services and to take concrete steps to ensure that discrimination does not happen again in the future,” he said. she declared.
“The failure of the human rights regulator to be satisfied that these very simple requirements have been met is a damning condemnation of the corporate culture and senior management at Pontins, which not only failed to the TSO communities, but also to the basic employees.
“Roma, Roma and Travelers have the right to access the same services as everyone else, and we hope this survey serves as a timely reminder to other businesses that discrimination will not go unnoticed.
Friends, Families and Travelers Campaigns Manager Chris McDonagh said: ‘The EHRC is doing the right thing and we hope it sends a strong message.’
The Guardian approached Pontins for comment.