A group claiming that they were blocked from hiring a riverboat because they are black have launched a court battle over race discrimination.
Terry Reid, Orlando Gittens, Patrick Joseph and Henry Agwuegbo are suing Thames Luxury Charters Ltd, which claims to have ‘the most elegant fleet’ on the river.
The four all made bookings with TLC, which were cancelled after the company claimed to have experienced trouble during a soul music event on one of their boats, involving Afro-Caribbean promoters.
The group say they had no connection with the organisers of the said event, other than the colour of their skin.
Consequently, the group is now bringing claims under the Equality Act 2010, in what is believed to be a legal first. They maintain they were denied access to services simply because they are black.
However, the company denies discrimination or that ‘the race of the promoters…played any part in the decision-making process’ when the bookings were cancelled.
Lawyers for TLC say the parties were scrapped solely due to a change of policy and a decision to take a ‘more cautious approach’ to bookings.
Terry Reid, an events promoter who is spearheading the action, told Central London County Court that he had booked TLC’s largest boat, The Dixie Queen, a replica 19th Century paddle steamer, for a soul and reggae party on July 8, 2017.
However, the company subsequently told him his party on the river would not be going ahead. This was due to incidents on the Dixie Queen during an event some weeks previously.
The company said that trouble with ‘illegal drugs’, ‘threatening behaviour’ and unlicensed distribution of alcohol had led them to adopt a ‘cautious’ policy towards future bookings.
Mr Reid and his friends – fellow promoters who each had reggae, soul or soca events cancelled – were told TLC would no longer accept bookings for large-scale ticketed events featuring guest DJs from organisers who were unknown to them.
The controversial earlier party was run by black promoters and Mr Reid claims that the new policy was designed to target events organised by and for black people.