UK Court Pulls Up Landlord For Ban On Colored People Due to ‘Curry Smells’
Landlord Fergus Wilson defended his practice, saying the houses required re-carpeting after Indian and Pakistani tenants vacated them.
A British landlord, who had banned “colored” people belonging to India and Pakistan from renting his properties because “curry leaves behind lingering smells”, was pulled up by court. The judge called his practice “unlawful.”
The Maidstone County Court granted an injunction against Fergus Wilson’s policy. Wilson, who denied being a racist, lost the legal action filed against him by UK human rights watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The injunction states that Wilson cannot apply a lettings policy stopping Indian or Pakistani people from renting his properties. The order is in place for three years, the breach of which will find him in contempt of court and facing jail or a hefty fine.
“I find the policy is unlawful. Such a policy has no place in our society,” Judge Richard Polden said in his ruling.
Wilson, a 69-year old property tycoon and former boxer, told the court that the email, which talked about the ban was “just a joke” and banter with a young letting agent. He went on to defend the policy on behalf of all landlords, and called the legal action “political correctedness gone wrong.”
The EHRC filed for a legal action against Wilson after an email to letting companies emerged, which told them about his ban on “colored people” because of the “curry smell.” When EHRC confronted him, he told them in an email: “I refuse to take tenants from a group of people that produce curry smells. I take just about anyone except Pakistanis and Indians.”
During the trial, Wilson said, “My only concern is for people who would have been coming into buy to-let but now will not. Public opinion has been on my side throughout.”
He went on to defend his policy by saying that the ban is cost effective as it saves re-carpeting costs after Indian and Pakistani tenants leave behind a curry smell with their cooking.
“All the local people here agree with me. It’s perfectly legal not to buy a house because you think it smells of curry. If you are in Luton or Bedford, maybe that won’t make a difference. But in Ashford and Maidstone, 99 per cent of the population are not from India or Pakistan. The problem is that if you have a £250,000 mid-terrace house, the valuation drops by £50,000 if it smells of curry,” Wilson told the court.
His arguments did not sit with the court, which ruled in favor of the EHRC. Chief executive Rebecca Hilensrath called the judgment a step closer to a “more equal Britain.”
“Our homes are fundamental to our private lives and to who we are. Denial of a home on the grounds of race or color is abhorrent conduct we do not accept in today’s society.
“There are still deep inequalities in our country and sadly some of the causes of those inequalities were illustrated by Mr Wilson’s comments over the summer,” she said.
This is not the first time the property mogul came under the fire of controversy. Last year, he observed a ban on single mothers, tenants on benefits and battered wives. “Of course many ladies can become single mums through unfortunate circumstances and they are many lovely young women who are single mothers.But there are other kinds of people too. And we don’t want to take those who are likely to appear on The Jeremy Kyle Show,” Wilson told the local newspaper KentLive.
He justified his ban against “battered wives” by saying that the aftermath of domestic abuse causes property damage. “It’s terrible what happens to these women,” he said, according to earlier media reports. “I hate it. But quite honestly it costs us a lot of money.”