Brewery accused of failing to protect staff after six men racially abuse and attack barman

Yahoo News UK
Around a hundred anti-racist protesters, escorted by police, shouted "shame on you" outside the Duke of Wellington pub (Yahoo News/Victoria Bell)
Around a hundred anti-racist protesters, escorted by police, shouted "shame on you" outside the Duke of Wellington pub (Yahoo News/Victoria Bell)

The owners of a London pub have been accused of failing to protect staff after a black barman was the victim of a racially-motivated attack by a group of men.

Student El Harding, 20, was assaulted while working at the Duke of Wellington pub, owned by Young’s brewery and located on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, at around 11.15pm on Saturday, 15 February.

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Six men made racist comments towards Harding before attacking him, stealing a piece of his jewellery and fleeing the establishment without paying their bill.

The barman suffered severe bruising and a dislocated shoulder after a chair was thrown at him.

On Saturday, about 100 anti-racism protesters carrying ‘Justice For El’ signs shouted "shame on you" outside the Duke of Wellington, calling on customers inside to leave and to boycott the pub.

Harding’s mother Eunicia said Young's had failed to protect her son on the night of the attack (Yahoo News/Victoria Bell)
Harding’s mother Eunicia said Young's had failed to protect her son on the night of the attack (Yahoo News/Victoria Bell)

They were joined by Labour MP Emma Dent Coad and the demonstration had the support of campaign group Stand Up To Racism.

Harding’s mother Eunicia, who spoke at the protest, said her son did not receive any support from staff and that management failed to promptly call emergency services after the attack.

Mrs Harding said: "This could happen to any of our children. Young’s failed to protect my son on that night.

“I'm devastated and heartbroken as a mother that this could happen.”

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She added that the pub normally has security at the door, but that "none of them were there" to support her son at the time of the attack. She told drinkers to leave the pub during Saturday’s protest.

Coad, who was the local MP for Kensington from 2017 until 2019, said locals are planning to boycott the pub and protest outside it every Saturday.

She tweeted: "A young man was brutally attacked and robbed by racists in his place of work. Duke of Wellington/Finches in Portobello didn't call police, let alone an ambulance.

"One hundred protestors just met outside, and will be there every week until they apologise and show duty of care for El."

She added in a separate tweet: "Given that he had been racially abused, beaten up, and robbed – and the pub also robbed as the racists ran off without paying – we’d like to know if this is the normal practice."

Six men racially abused the bartender, before attacking him and fleeing the Duke of Wellington, of which Finch's Dining room is a part (Yahoo News/Victoria Bell)
Six men racially abused the bartender, before attacking him and fleeing the Duke of Wellington, of which Finch's Dining room is a part (Yahoo News/Victoria Bell)

Another speaker at the demonstration, who did not want to be identified, said: “The racists who attacked El need to be charged by police and brought to trial.

“By protesting we are sending out a clear message that we will not tolerate racism in our community.

“The Duke of Wellington management team did not take the welfare of their staff seriously and did not follow protocol, by failing to call the police and ambulance services.”

She added: “The manager made very clear that she was only concerned about when El would be returning to work. This was said in a conversation after the attack.”

A Met Police spokesperson told Yahoo News: "Police were called at 12:03am on Sunday, 16 February to reports of an assault at a pub on Portobello Road.

"Officers attended and spoke to a man, aged in his 20s, who reported he had been assaulted and had an item of jewellery stolen by a group of males.

"He was also racially abused.

"Officers are investigating. No arrests have been made."

In a statement, Young’s apologised for the delay in calling the police: "The management and staff of the Duke of Wellington, and all at Young’s, fully share the anger and disgust of the community following the vile racist attack on a 20-year-old member of staff.

"We fully understand the family’s anger at the incident and wish to reassure them, and the community, that Young’s do not tolerate any attack on our staff and will always do everything we can to provide every assistance to the police.

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“All our colleagues were left shocked and stunned by the incident and unfortunately, on this occasion, did not follow our protocol to immediately call the police. Instead the deputy manager called the manager for guidance, who instructed they, as the manager on duty, call the police immediately.

"The deputy manager was on that call when the police arrived shortly after the incident.

“We offer our sincere apologies to our colleague and his family that our protocol to call the police immediately after an incident was not completed more quickly on this occasion."

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