Shop worker subjected to racial abuse after claims newsagent refused to serve soldier
A shop worker said he had suffered racial abuse after his newsagents was accused of refusing to serve soldiers.
Protesters gathered outside Alpha News, in the Hardshaw Centre in St Helens, this morning after the shopkeeper was accused by Duane Fahy of refusing to serve him and another soldier because they were wearing combat uniform.
Mr Fahy posted a photo of the shop on Facebook, which was shared more than 7,000 times before he deleted it this afternoon.
Irfan Patel, who works in the shop, said the two men were not served because they were asking for tobacco and looked under age.
He said the shopkeeper had mistakenly believed he could refuse to serve tobacco to people in uniform, but the shop had since apologised for that.
The shop worker said a woman then offered to buy the cigarettes for the two men and she was served.
Mr Patel said when he came in to work at the shop at about 8am he found about 30 protestors outside.
He said: “A couple were aggressive with me. I’ve had about 20 phone calls from people saying racist abuse.
“The people outside keep calling me racist, but when I try to explain they just won’t listen.
“They had been trying to stop people coming into the shop but the police stopped them from doing that.
“It’s definitely affected business today.”
Mr Fahy wrote on his Facebook page this afternoon: “People I have no choice but to delete my post about me not being served at the shop due to racial and discriminating comments.”
Merseyside Police said hate crime unit Sigma was looking into offensive and threatening comments posted online.
The force said officers were called to the shop at about 11am following reports of a small number of protestors.
A spokesman said: “Police are monitoring the situation and the owner of the business is helping officers with their enquiries.
“Police are also aware of offensive and threatening comments being posted on social media network sites towards this business.
“Although police have not received a report of complaint from the shop, a full investigation into the wider comments being made is underway by the SIGMA team in St Helens. Police are looking into whether any of these comments constitute a criminal offence under the Malicious Communications and Public Order Acts.
“Merseyside Police will continue to use all the available technology and expertise at its disposal to identify people who commit offences on-line and take action under the current laws.
“People should stop and think on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.”
One shopper, who did not want to be named, said: “There were a couple of dozen people just standing out there telling people not to go in.
“There were three or four police officers there as well.”
A spokesman for the Hardman Centre said: “We are aware of allegations that a retailer at The Hardshaw Centre refused to serve a soldier who was in uniform.
“We have investigated these allegations and, having spoken to the shopkeeper in question, we believe this was a genuine error and not the result of any form of discrimination.
“We have been advised that the shopkeeper intends to extend a full apology to the individual involved as soon as possible.”
An Army spokesman said: “The Army is aware of an alleged incident in which it appears two of our soldiers were refused service in a newsagent due to them being in uniform.
“This is disappointing and not representative of the huge amount of public support the Armed Forces continue to receive from the general public.”