Brighton pub throws out disabled woman

Posted On 09 Aug 2016 at 1:22 am

A Brighton pub threw out a young disabled woman when she went into a crouching position after being startled by a sudden blast of loud music.

A man who said that he was the licensee of the Mash Tun, on the corner of Church Street and New Road, asked 19-year-old Charlie Skelton to leave.

Charlie’s mother, Jenny Skelton, explained to the barman that her daughter suffers from a chromosome abnormality and had been startled. But another member of staff just repeated that she would have to leave the pub.

She has since shared what happened with friends on Facebook as well as contacting the pub’s owner and operator, the Laine Pub Company.

Her post appears below. It quickly went viral and some of the many people who left supportive comments also left less positive comments on the Mash Tun’s page.

Last night the Mash Tun’s general manager, Aaron “Azzy” Williams, posted an apology on the pub’s Facebook page, saying: “I work really hard to make the Mash Tun a fun, friendly and inclusive pub so I’m devastated that we have fallen short of our usual standards through the actions of a member of my staff.

“I am trying to contact Jenny and Charlie to express how sorry I am and to see if there is anything at all I can do to make amends.

“I’ve investigated what went wrong and am reviewing my disability awareness training to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Charlie Skelton

Charlie Skelton

The incident happened on Sunday evening (7 August) and yesterday (Monday 8 August) Jenny wrote: “Last night, my nineteen-and-a-half-year-old, adopted, disabled daughter, Charlie, was thrown out of a pub – the Mash Tun in Brighton – for being disabled.

“Charlie has two chromosome abnormalities and is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, she is very innocent, child-like and can’t read or write but, on the other hand, she has a great vocabulary and wants to be a teenager, just like other young people her age.

“She will never be able to do things on her own because she is vulnerable and unaware of consequences.

“Anyone who has met Charlie will know that she is one of the sweetest people you could ever wish to meet.

“She fits in anywhere and, when she is with me and my friends, she chats away (usually about Justin Bieber!) or quietly plays on her iPad.

“I have always been able to take her anywhere and she enjoys a full life – going to theatre, concerts, cinema and other social events.

“Such is Charlie’s good behaviour that several of my friends have taken her out and, indeed, a friend of mine is taking her to the cinema on Wednesday. This particular friend has taken Charlie to several events without any problem, as have other friends.

“I adopted Charlie at the age of three with her two siblings and she has never willingly caused me a moment of trouble.

Mash Tun. Image taken from Google Streetview

The Mash Tun. Image taken from Google Streetview

“Last night, a good friend offered to take Charlie and me out for a meal. After the meal, at 9.30pm, we were walking back to the disabled space where I had parked the car when we heard some music coming from the Mash Tun.

“As it was a beautiful evening and it looked like a nice atmosphere, we decided to end the night by sitting outside the pub with a drink.

“I always carry Charlie’s passport with me because she doesn’t look nearly 20 and I showed it to the doorman. We then ordered our drinks at the bar. There was only one other customer in the pub as everyone else was sitting outside on the benches.

“As we were being served, I suddenly noticed that Charlie was crouching quietly (ie, not making a sound) on the floor with her hands over her ears.

“I was surprised as it is not something I have seen her do before and she said it was because a sudden burst of loud music had startled her.

“As I was telling her to stand up, the barman (who said he was the licensee) said she would have to leave.

“I was shocked and explained that she was disabled, that the music had temporarily scared her but that she was okay now.

“He insisted that she would have to leave because he couldn’t have someone doing that in a pub. He said it was Pride weekend and he had had to throw out at least three people an hour.

Jenny Skelton

Jenny Skelton

“I said that Charlie had not even had a drink and that her behaviour was because she was disabled. He insisted that she was not welcome. During this conversation, my friend took Charlie to stand just outside the open patio doors.

“I told the licensee about the Equality Act and that it was not right to discriminate against her because of her disability.

“I explained about her chromosome abnormalities and asked if he would discriminate against someone in a wheelchair. He said of course he wouldn’t. I said there is no difference between discriminating against a physical or a mental disability.

“I said that she had only been crouched down for a couple of seconds and that no one had even seen, that she had not been in anyone’s way (as I said, the pub was empty, no one had complained or even seen and she is tiny – she weighs under five stone and is only 4 feet 8 inches tall) and that she wouldn’t do it again. In any case, we were going to sit outside with our drinks.

“At no time did the conversation become heated or argumentative but I was trying to explain very calmly that he was not allowed to discriminate because she is disabled.

“The other barman said to me, ‘Right, you have had your say now so you can leave.’

“I said that I was trying to continue to explain because I thought he would see sense. They still asked us to leave so I had no option but to do as they asked.

Aaron Williams aka Azzy

Aaron Williams aka Azzy

“Of course I feel angry but, more than that, I feel extremely saddened – saddened that what had been a lovely evening was turned around so quickly but more saddened that Charlie had not been allowed to do what other people can do because she is disabled.

“She was not hurting anyone and never would. She is a delightful girl whose chief aim in life is to please people.

“She was so distraught by what happened that she is still crying about it the following morning. She keeps saying that everyone hates her, that everything is her fault, that she wants to die and that she wishes she wasn’t disabled.

“It is heartbreaking and totally unjust.

“The Equality Act exists so that people are not treated unfairly because of their disability. Not only was Charlie treated unfairly, the licensee also broke the law because I had told him about her disabilities and he had no good reason to ask her to leave.

“If she had been doing anything to cause any nuisance to anyone (not that she ever would) then, of course, I would have willingly taken her away.

“It was Pride weekend in Brighton – a glorious celebration of the total acceptance of and non-discrimination of a group of people of whom Charlie and I have many friends.

“We always watch the Pride parade and Charlie loves it. It is ironic that it was during this wonderful weekend that Charlie was discriminated against: proof that, although one group of people are now completely deservedly accepted in Brighton, another group – the disabled – aren’t.

“How sad and how very un-Brighton.”

Mash Tun apology to Jenny and Charlie Skelton from Aaron Williams aka Azzy

Jenny also posted two updates last night. The first said: “I am overwhelmed and so grateful for everyone’s comments about this situation.

“Charlie and I had hardly any sleep last night. She was traumatised and didn’t understand what she had done wrong.

“A few people have asked if they can share this post. I would be extremely thankful if you could share it because I absolutely do not want this to happen to anyone else.”

The second update said: “What can I say but ‘wow’. I am completely staggered at the response regarding this incident, particularly from those who know Charlie and who have been so kind about her.

“It is clearly an emotive issue and I would like to try to use this collective incensed response to address the way in which mental and invisible disabilities are treated across the board so that they can elicit the same acknowledgment and non-discrimination as visible disabilities attract (supposedly and hopefully).

“I have just checked my Junk folder and there were apology emails in there from both Enterprise Inns and Laine Pub Company (joint owners/operators of the Mash Tun).

“They both say that they will investigate the incident. I will keep you all updated. Once again, my sincere and grateful thanks go to everyone who has supported me and Charlie.”

  1. Freeman no.1 Reply

    So what is Charlie’s Mother’s interpretation of ‘equality’? When Charlie is treated as an equal regardless of her disabilities, she thinks that’s discrimination because of a disability and goes on to claim laws are being broken.
    Seems like a pretty awful event for all involved. Hope Charlie feels better soon. X

    • Bovrilbonanza Reply

      I think the point is that Charlies disability wasn’t taken into account after it was explained to the members of staff in question. They wouldn’t discriminate against a person in a wheelchair, and wheelchair access is provided. But how then does one accommodate someone with chromosome abnormalities? With a little compassion and understanding, I suspect, and a willingness to listen to reason.

    • Peter Banks Reply

      Equality doesn’t mean everyone being treated the same, it means everyone being treated equally – some people need to be treated differently in order to be treated equally: i.e. child with dyslexia gets 90 mins for an exam, children sitting same exam without dyslexia get 60 minutes: outcome is that they all get an equal opportunity to achieve the top grade.

    • Tony Greenstein Reply

      I suggest Freeman no. 1 gets wise. We have only had disability discrimination legislation for 40 years. Preventing discrimination means positively discriminating in favour of someone who is disabled to redress the disadvantages they suffer from. It is so ABC that I don’t know why you don’t mug up the basics before making stupid comments.

      That is why shops which exclude dogs are obliged to take guide dogs because being blind prevents someone from navigating in the same way as someone with functioning eyesight but as they say there are none so blind as those who will not see.

      I hope Jenny and Charlie Skelton take legal advice because they suffered a detriment because of the behaviour of the staff member and Charlie deserves to be compensated financially for what she has experienced. The supply of goods and services is included in the DDA.

      Sacking the staff member concerned does not compensate for what happened and it is clear that more than one staff member was involved.

      • Alice Jack Reply

        Excellently said Tony Greenstein.
        Perfect explanation of how the DDA works.
        Thank you.

  2. Val Clarke Reply

    The member of staff in question should be fired immediately without references. What utterly disgusting behaviour!
    Had Charlie been on her own I can understand how a misunderstanding could have occurred, but she wasn’t, she was with her mother who explained what the issue was and assured the staff member that she would take care of her etc etc.
    How can any disabled person expect the same rights are everyone else while there are people like this employed in places that the disabled have every right to use??!!
    Completely shameful behaviour!

  3. Jason Cotterill-Attaway Reply

    They have acted illegally and you should contact the local licencing authority.

    I ran a pub in Coventry which became a ‘second home’ for people with non-visable disabilities, as I have Aspergers syndrome and my son is severely autistic, we hosted a number of ‘awareness’ and fundraising events; this sort of behaviour should not be tolerated – any of my staff would have been sacked on the spot for such behaviour (any behaviour deemed criminal or potentially threatening the licence is gross misconduct).

  4. John Reply

    So…”one strike and you’re out”? Is that what a loving community looks like? Wouldn’t we do better to work at bringing everyone on board – with love?

  5. julie Reply

    Jenny is such an amazing, beautiful and articulate lady. Imagine if Charlie had been on her own or with somebody less able to clearly and calmly explain her disability? Good that this story went viral, as it perfectly illustrates problems that many people encounter, and not every disabled person has somebody like Jenny to speak for them, she is speaking for them all now.

  6. donna Reply

    It’s a shame that some people don’t know how to deal with disabilities! I think that the person who chucked her out should be fired! Every one should be treated the same and some special measure should be put into place for all disabilities! Thought this was surposed to be a family fun pub? Clearly not if someone has been chucked out coz of their disability! Just think how wrong the person was for making her feel out of place. Xx

  7. Heather Reply

    The world is made up of many different people, thankfully less like the management of this establishment. I don’t know the legal in’s and outs of the disability act but Discrimination like this should not be allowed to go unpunished. If the staff member is not brought to task over this it will let others think it is OK to do this. No way is this acceptable and hope those higher up the chain of command take this as a serious violation.

  8. Peter Bisson Reply

    These people should not be in business.

  9. Kevin Hutton Reply

    It sounds to me like the barman had reached the end of his tether after having to evict three other people earlier that day. I’m not excusing his attitude. I’m saying we all make mistakes. Let him learn from this, keep his job, and move on.

    It does annoy me that Charlie’s mum says ‘she’ll never be able to do anything for herself’. That’s the wrong attitude for the parent of a disabled teenager to have.

    • Pete Mitchell Reply

      Erm – some things are irreversible?

  10. Mary Murphy Reply

    Thank you Jennifer Skelton for leaving a post on face book that has ended up being shared to my wall via a good friend.
    I am very aware of discrimination everywhere and have seen people trying to discriminate against my autistic son and been aware of hidden discrimination for example in the many jobs he has applied for where he has been honest about his disability on the application form and then gotten no further in the selection process.
    It saddens me that even after you having the courage to speak up on behalf of your daughter, you were still asked to leave the pub
    I can only hope that as time goes on she will be able to accept that the whole thing was caused sadly by blind ignorance on the part of the two bar staff and was in no way her fault.
    I also want to go on to say that she is and you are unsung heroes, this whole incident has brought both of you to all our attention and leaves me moved and wanting to say bless the pair of you.
    Witnessing my son living with his autism and doing his best to walk the path that is the rest of the world, plus being his parent carer & appointee within that is no easy ride
    You can find me on face book.
    Please feel free to call on me for campaigning any support any time

  11. Alice Jack Reply

    Excellently said Tony Greenstein!

  12. Claire Zahn Reply

    I felt really sad when I read this story and all the comments. Perhaps the lads who made the decision to ask Charlie and Jenny to leave were doing their best. But for the grace of God go I. Jenny clearly states that the conversation was not heated, so they were not agressive or malicious. The good news is that the manager acknowledges the wrongdoing and is looking to put it right. Everything happens for a reason. This story has certainly highlighted to me, the challenges that people with mental disabilities face in public places.

  13. Paul Reply

    Claire Zahn August 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm Reply

    “Were doing their best” by asking a disabled child in an empty pub to leave – despite a clear simple explanation from this wonderful mother and carer? You think it’s also a positive that they were not malicious or aggressive to this young disabled girl and her mother? I am actually afraid for society and how little respect and care people have for one another – particularly people with disabilities of less obvious natures.
    I agree it’s good that this appalling behaviour was highlighted but anyone with even an ounce of decency would not need that pointed out.

  14. BobbyB Reply

    Do you really need ‘training’ to tell you how should treat a young lady ‘crouching quietly (ie, not making a sound) on the floor with her hands over her ears’? Is it not patently obvious that this situation calls for care and tender treatment rather than bullying and eviction?

    Words are cheap, Mr. Williams. Let’s see some real atonement starting with the Mash Tun supporting local disability organisations. The best way to train your staff is getting them to work with and support this community. Then they might begin to understand and ameliorate with the difficulties of others.

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