A SOLDIER who risked his life in Afghanistan and Iraq was shocked when a pub refused to serve him because he was in uniform. Guardsman Brad Thomas and fellow Grenadier Guard Jimmy Nuttal were working for an Army recruitment team when they stopped for lunch at the Cross Keys pub, in Market Street, Witney.
But as they looked at the menu, they were told to leave because the pub would not serve members of the armed forces wearing uniform. Guardsman Thomas, 24, who has lost nine colleagues in Afghanistan, said: “It really is pretty shocking. We weren’t even going to drink. We only wanted a meal and a glass of coke.
“Everyone in the pub was looking at us, and I don’t think some of them could believe it either. I was quite annoyed.” The pair crossed the road and where served at another pub. A member of the public offered to pay for their meals. Yesterday, pub chain Punch Taverns claimed RAF Brize Norton had written to local pubs telling them not to serve uniformed soldiers. The base denied this, and neither of the men is based at Brize.
Ten other Witney pubs told the Gazette they had never received any such request from the airbase. GDSM Thomas’s mum Sharon, 53, said: “Our lads and lasses are on the front line, putting their life at risk every day, yet in their own country they are treated like this. I think it is disgusting.”
Witney’s Royal British Legion welfare officer Don Deaney, who pays his respects to every fallen British soldier’s cortege passing through Headington, said: “It is appalling. I’m absolutely staggered and disgusted. Anyone who cannot serve someone a meal because they are in uniform should go to Oxford (on repatriation days) to see what is going on.”
A Punch Taverns spokesman said she believed RAF Brize Norton had told Witney pubs not to serve uniformed troops, because they are prohibited from entering licensed premises. She added: “Our team at the Cross Keys was acting in respect of this regulation.” She said staff would do the same again, but said the company’s “utmost respect and admiration” for servicemen was shown by the money it raised for military charities.
RAF Brize Norton spokes- man Katie Zasada said: “Any personnel in the Navy, Army or RAF are not allowed to enter any pub in uniform, unless it is for a wedding or funeral. There has not been communication between us and the pubs, but they should not be putting them in that situation in the first place.”
The ban is thought to date back to the IRA pub bombings in the 1970s, but last year Prime Minister Gordon Brown said soldiers should be encouraged to wear their uniform in public. If you feel as angry as I do about the way he was treated then let the pub know by contacting them using the details below
The Cross Keys
1 Market Square