Pontins needs to 'take a fundamental look' at their policies, says UK human rights body

Alistair Pringle said the commission was concerned, as gypsy/traveller communities are a protected racial group under the Equality Act.
Pontins needs to 'take a fundamental look' at their policies, says UK human rights body

A list of "undesirable" guests' names was discovered for use by Pontins staff when taking bookings. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Alastair Pringle, executive director at the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission has called on British holiday company Pontins to “take a fundamental look” at their policies and practices following the discovery of a list of “undesirable” guests.

Mr Pringle told RTÉ radio’s News at One that the commission had been first contacted by a whistleblower in February 2020 who raised concerns about some of the policies and practices that were being undertaken by Pontins, which they thought were particularly discriminatory.

“So we've had a look into this and in fact some of the practices that were involved were refusing any bookings that were made by people with an Irish accent or surname.

“The list is quite long, there must be about 30 names on the list that they passed out to the call centre that took the bookings. There was a list of names and they were titled 'undesirable guests'. There's also a policy that banned holidaymakers from arriving in commercial vehicles and that was potentially or specifically to exclude gypsy/traveller communities to arrive at holiday parks,” said Mr Pringle. 

Mr Pringle said the commission was concerned, as gypsy/traveller communities are a protected racial group under the Equality Act. “That was specifically where our interest arose from and this was to us direct discrimination,” he said. 

Pontins had accepted that they were not acting lawfully, he said and the commission had engaged them in a formal agreement, under the Equality Act.

“They're going to conduct an investigation into this list of undesirable guests and see where it came from and make sure appropriate action is taken. They're going to be providing enhanced training on the equality law for their staff.

“It was clearly a set of policies and practices, this wasn't about one or two individuals deciding that they thought this was a bad thing, this is clearly policy and practice and that's why we're interested in looking at it as an issue.

“They need to take a pretty fundamental look at how these policies and practices arose, why anyone thought they were acceptable in the first place.” The commission will be monitoring the situation for 12 months, he said.

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