Downing Street has hit out at discrimination Pontins were found to have shown against people from Gypsy and Traveller backgrounds, slamming the holiday firm's behaviour as "completely unacceptable".
Pontins, which has a holiday park in Southport, was found to have used a "blacklist" with common Irish traveller surnames on it, titled "undesirable guests".
The shocking list, containing mostly Irish surnames, was uploaded onto Pontins' intranet and was used in a system of routine discrimination against Gypsy and Traveller families, the i Paper reported.
Surnames on the list included Boyle, Delaney, Gallagher, McGinley, McMahon and O’Donnell, with staff told “we do not want these guests on our parks."
Downing Street condemned the blacklist as "completely unacceptable", with the Prime Minister's official spokesman saying: "No-one in the UK should be discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity.
"It's right that the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Pontins investigate and address this."
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Widespread outrage was sparked after the i Paper reported the list, with many hitting out at the holiday firm for discriminating against a wide group of people.
Labour MP for St Helens Connor McGinn tweeted: "The list of surnames is ludicrous, but the intent behind it is no laughing matter."
An investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found the firm had used the blacklist of names to discriminate against people staying.
The Britannia Hotel Group, which owns Pontins, has now signed a legally binding agreement with the EHRC to comprehensively address the issues raised by the whistleblower.
The agreement requires Britannia Jinky Jersey Ltd to investigate the blacklist, review the firm’s booking policies and run annual equality and diversity training for staff.
The EHRC said that by declining to provide its services to guests of a certain race or ethnic group, Pontins was “directly discriminating on the basis of race” and had “breached the Equality Act”.
Gypsies and Travellers are recognised as distinct racial groups under the 2010 Act, which covers England, Scotland and Wales, protecting them against discrimination.
As well as using a blacklist, the EHRC said Pontins had been monitoring calls to its contact centre and refusing or cancelling bookings made by some people with Irish accents or surnames, as well as using its commercial vehicles policy to exclude Gypsies and Travellers from its holiday parks.
If Pontins does not follow the terms of the agreement, the EHRC could launch a more wide-ranging investigation.
Alastair Pringle, the EHRC’s executive director, told the paper: “It is hard not to draw comparisons with an ‘undesirable guest list’ and the signs displayed in hotel windows 50 years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and black people.
“Banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful. To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement.
“It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action.
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“We will continue to work with Pontins and (parent company) Britannia Jinky Jersey to ensure that our agreement is adhered to and its practices improve.”
A spokesman from Britannia Jinky Jersey said it had “agreed to work together with the EHRC to further enhance its staff training and procedures in order to further promote equality throughout its business”.
The Traveller Movement, a charity which promotes inclusion and community engagement with Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, said it was “disappointed but unsurprised” to hear of the “appalling” blacklist.
CEO Yvonne MacNamara said: “We’ve heard holiday camps do this sort of thing all the time. We are pleased to see the EHRC taking this course of action and really using its powers appropriately.
“We hope this sets a precedent, both for whistle blowers and for other holiday camp providers. This treatment of Irish Travellers is completely unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated.”