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Legal win for disabled couple over nightclub ban

A DISABLED couple have won a discrimination case against one of Scotland's highest-profile leisure companies after they were refused access to a nightclub.

ACCESS: Robert, left, and Nathan Gale were unlawfully refused entry to a Glasgow club. Picture: Steve Cox
ACCESS: Robert, left, and Nathan Gale were unlawfully refused entry to a Glasgow club. Picture: Steve Cox

Nathan and Robert Gale took G1 Group to court for unlawful discrimination after they were turned away from the Polo Lounge in Glasgow last June.

Management at the club said it had no disabled facilities. When the couple explained they did not need disabled facilities they were still refused entry.

Robert Gale, who has cerebral palsy, pulled himself from his wheelchair and crawled up the stairs to convince security staff he did not require a wheelchair ramp.

His partner, who has arthritis and also uses a wheelchair, sat on the side of the stairs at the Merchant City nightspot while his partner tried to reason with management at the top of the stairs.

Management called the police, while a staff member later told the media they had called officers to have the pair removed due to "their disorderly and anti-social conduct".

The firm yesterday said it accepted the pair were "wrongly refused" entry due to a "misunderstanding".

Following the incident, the couple took legal action against G1 Group, owned by leisure and property tycoon Stefan King, under the Equality Act in relation to access for disabled people.

Yesterday, an agreement was reached at Glasgow Sheriff Court that G1 Group had unlawfully discriminated against the couple, who will receive £2000 in compensation.

Speaking afterwards, Robert Gale said: "We are delighted with the result, which sends a clear message to businesses across Scotland that disability discrimination is illegal and will not be tolerated, just as we would not accept discrimination on the basis of race or sexuality.

"We took this case in the hope it would give people faith that discrimination law can work, that as disabled people we do not just have to accept the treatment we receive.

"We took this case to show every company who thinks it can get away with treating disabled people like they are unworthy of using their services that they can't."

A spokeswoman for G1 Group said: "G1 Group Plc today accepted Nathan and Robert Gale were wrongly refused entry to the Polo Lounge on June 13, 2013. This was a one-off incident and due to a misunderstanding by staff in relation to wheelchair access to the Polo Lounge, which is a listed building.

"The staff concerned have been provided with further training in light of this incident."

Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said; "We welcome this important judgement, which sends out a clear message that businesses must not discriminate, whether on grounds of disability or on any other grounds, such as sexual orientation or gender identity."

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