Disabled girl barred from nightclub as crutches deemed 'offensive weapons' (This Is London)
Monday September 24th, 2007
A nightclub's decision to turn away a disabled girl on crutches has been branded 'absolutely ludicrous' by the Disability Rights Commission.
Jennifer Bartle, 20, said she felt "angry and humiliated" after she was refused entry on the grounds her crutches could be potential offensive weapons.
Miss Bartle, who suffers from a bone disease, informed the Commission after she was denied access to the Hush Enigma Club in Newton Abbot, Devon.
The Commission said today: "We think it is absolutely ludicrous what had happened. Any unfixed object can be used as a weapon.
"To single her out for this treatment is quite appalling, and we have advised of her rights and what to do next," said the spokesman.
"She needs a written justification from the nightclub as to why they have effectively banned her. It seems clear to us she was being treated very unfairly, the nightclub should know better," they added.
Miss Bartle also raised the issue with her MP, Liberal Democrat Richard Younger-Ross, who said today: "This is an unbelievable decision by the nightclub to deny a young disabled girl access.
"The club are almost certainly in breach of the disability rights legislation."
And he continued: "Disabled people face many hurdles and to deny a young person access to a nightclub, effectively because of their disability, creates yet another barrier between her and her friends. While they party, she is meant to sit it out."
Mr Younger-Ross has asked to meet with the nightclub and is taking the matter up with the Disability Rights Minister, Anne McGuire MP.
Miss Bartle said she had been allowed into the club on two previous occasions, and to deny her access was "ridiculous."
"Anything could be used as a weapon, including stilettos, glasses, and chairs, and other things like knives could be hidden in handbags," she said.
She said she was turned away at the door by four security staff when she went for a night out with two friends.
"It made me very angry and humiliated. It has really knocked my confidence."
Miss Bartle, who cannot walk unaided, said she was told she could go in if she handed in the crutches, to be returned when she left.
"I think the club should use a bit of common sense over this and be more flexible," said Miss Bartle, who is going to Bath University this term.
The manager of Hush Enigma, Sue Ewan, said the ban was imposed on legal advice after two violent incidents.
"We were assured we would not be infringing any discrimination legislation," she said.
She said she would discuss the policy and the reasons behind it if Miss Bartle came in to see her.[NOAD]