Published: 26 May 2022
Britain’s equality regulator has launched a formal investigation into Pontins holiday parks due to continued concerns about discrimination against Gypsies and Travellers.
Pontins owner, Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited, last year entered into a 12-month legal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), following allegations that the company operated a discriminatory booking policy.
Alleged practices included publishing an ‘undesirable’ guest list containing common Irish surnames and refusing or cancelling bookings by people suspected of being Gypsies or Travellers. Declining to provide services to guests because they are of a certain race or ethnic group is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010, which recognises Gypsies and Travellers as a distinct racial group.
After monitoring Pontins’ compliance, the EHRC decided to end the agreement on 18 February on the basis that the company had not satisfied the EHRC that it was taking the required steps to prevent unlawful race discrimination or meet its commitments under the agreement.
The EHRC has now launched a formal investigation that will consider whether Pontins has committed unlawful acts under the Equality Act 2010.
Investigators will look at:
- whether Pontins has committed race discrimination against Gypsy and Traveller guests, prospective guests or their associates in how it provides its services
- whether Pontins’ booking policies directly or indirectly discriminate on the basis of race, including a requirement that guests, or prospective guests, are on the electoral register
- whether Pontins’ intelligence, information and record-keeping systems are operating in a way that discriminates directly or indirectly on the basis of race.
Marcial Boo, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“We are concerned that Pontins may have illegally denied Gypsy and Traveller families the simple pleasure of a holiday. Any business that refuses to provide services to guests due to their race or ethnic group is likely to be breaking equality law.
“We signed a legally-binding agreement with Pontins last year. We expected that to address our concerns about discriminatory behaviour. The company’s failure to comply has left us with no choice but to use stronger enforcement powers to investigate further.
“The EHRC will continue to use all legal powers at its disposal to ensure that no-one experiences racism, whether at a holiday park or elsewhere, simply because of their name, ethnicity or the community they belong to.”
The investigation, which begins today, is expected to last months rather than weeks.