Musings on the John Snow pub events - The Events
There are of course always two sides to a story and it would be very interesting indeed to hear the management's side of this particular one.
The problem is that the management has shown a remarkable lack of PR savvy throughout the whole story. Not only have they consistently refused to answer enquiries from the press or issuing pithy comments like “I have every right to kick people out if I wish.” or “Can you just stop calling this number please, or we’ll have you done for harassment.” but the Samuel Smith Brewery, who owns the pub has been equally silent (although this is apparently normally policy from the company in the face of crisis).
What is utterly astounding, and, in the mind of many, further proof of foul play, is that the landlord, cutting his nose to spite his face, should have deemed it preferable to close the pub on a Friday night, on what would no doubt be a very busy and profitable night, rather than let openly and visibly gay people enter his pub.
Press reports confirm that the closure does not come from police advice. The police didn't turn up until at least one hour after the start of the protest, so worried were they that something untoward would happen. It would have been so easy for management to dispel the situation to their advantage by simply making a bit of a fuss in welcoming people in on the night.
But they decided to shut the door instead, literally and metaphorically. The brewery needs to urgently fire their PR person. Or perhaps simply hire one...
While under the Licensing Act, landlords are indeed allowed to decide who they admit into their premises, they also must abide by the anti-discrimination regulations that state that LGB people should be treated in the same was as their straight counterparts in the provision of goods and services.
There is indeed so far no proof that we are in the presence of homophobic discrimination. However, the language reportedly used by the management, the media silence, the fact that they decided to close the pub to avoid the kiss-in as well as the ejection itself for what seems to be very innocent behaviour; all tend to point towards something potentially unsavoury.
Something that could be made all the more unsavoury by (so far) unsubstantiated allegations about the landlord's former political allegiances and present views on certain sections of society made by someone who claims to be a former employee of the John Snow on Facebook and Twitter.
Should these be proven to be true (and they haven't), a very interesting new light would be shed on the sorry episode that brings us here. It is important to note that no proof has been given to support those accusations.
[This section of the post was edited down following external advice and personal reflection to remove details of the allegations and avoid possible accusations of libel.]
Confirmation that the banning of kissing customers is not something one should be expecting at the John Snow comes from one John Clark, who says he used to manage the pub and has been reported by the Daily Mail as saying: 'Wish I could be there. I used to manage this pub and this disgraceful act would never have happened in my day. Enjoy all the snogging folks.'
The police are investigating and everyone is very eager to hear the results of this inquiry. There are too many questions and not enough concrete answers at the moment.
To be continued...
Read my short report of the kiss-in for Londonist here. My pictures of the event can be found on flickr, here.