he UK equality watchdog has begun formal legal action against property tycoon
Fergus Wilson after he instructed his letting agent to ban Indian and Pakistani
tenants from his properties because they left a "curry smell."
It was reported in March that Wilson, who owns around 1,000 homes in Kent,
emailed a local letting agency, saying: "No colored people because of the curry
smell at the end of the tenancy."
On Thursday the Equality and Human Rights Commission announced that it is
seeking a court injunction against Wilson, whose £250 million sale of his property
empire is ongoing.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, the commission's chief executive, said in a statement: "We
have asked the court if it agrees with us that Mr Wilson’s lettings policy contains
unlawful criteria and, if so, to issue an injunction.
"As this is now formal legal action we will release further information at a later
Wilson responded to the legal action by telling The Guardian on Thursday:
"I personally find Indian and Pakistani people, and also colored people in general
to be extremely intelligent people. And I know quite a number.
"We had a problem with a tenant who had dogs, which fouled the carpet. I say no
pets and no smoking, and no one gets upset about that. I tacked on to the email
'no coloured people because of curry smells.' When you rent a property, no one
is going to take it if it smells of curry."
Wilson's letting criterion of "no colored people" is potentially in breach of section
13 of the Equality Act 2010, which bans direct discrimination on the grounds of
race, the EHRC said.
It said that if the court grants an injunction that Wilson complies with, "then
nothing more will happen. However, if he breaches the injunction and continues
to apply the discriminatory criterion, this could be contempt of court which could
result in a fine."
Britain's biggest landlord
who banned 'colored'
people because of their
'curry smell' is heading to