Prop­erty ty­coon con­tacts po­lice over on­line abuse

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View - By Mary Gra­ham

Mil­lion­aire land­lord Fer­gus Wil­son has called in po­lice af­ter re­ceiv­ing abu­sive on­line mes­sages in the wake of him ban­ning “coloureds” from rent­ing his homes be­cause of curry smells.

The 69-year-old says he has re­ceived grossly of­fen­sive com­ments af­ter the story broke last week.

Mes­sages in­cluded doc­tored pic­tures of him and wife Ju­dith with an es­tate agent’s board sug­gest­ing they would only rent prop­er­ties to 2% of the pop­u­la­tion he found “ac­cept­able”.

An­other poster t ook to YouTube and in a lengthy post on the is­sue, us­ing deroga­tory words about the prop­erty mogul, who owns hun­dreds of houses in Ash­ford and Maid­stone.

Mr Wil­son, pic­tured, of Boughton Monchelsea, said: “I be­lieve these mes­sages are a crime and that’s why I brought it to the po­lice, but I don’t know how they will trace these peo­ple.”

“To me it is the choice of words that make these grossly of­fen­sive and they have been pub­lished in the pub­lic do­main.”

A po­lice spokesman said the force was aware and will be work­ing to es­tab­lish if any crim­i­nal of­fences have taken place. Mr Wil­son has re­peat­edly in­sisted his stance is not racist and said the is­sue was with curry cook­ing, stains and smells not the eth­nic­ity of those rent­ing his homes.

He said he would make the same de­ci­sion if he ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar is­sues with white peo­ple and claims take­away In­dian food presents no prob­lems.

His move has drawn the at­ten­tion of the Equal­ity and Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, which says it will take le­gal ac­tion af­ter the ty­coon stood by his pol­icy.

He said some of his houses needed to be cleaned with chem­i­cals while, in ex­treme cases, car­pets had been re­placed due to the curry is­sue.

Re­becca Hilsen­rath, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Equal­ity and Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, said: “These are truly dis­gust­ing re­marks as well as be­ing un­law­ful in­struc­tions from a land­lord to a let­ting agent.

“There are still deep in­equal­i­ties in our so­ci­ety as our race re­port demon­strated and these com­ments show why.

“We will in­ves­ti­gate and will be ask­ing Mr Wil­son to ex­plain his ac­tions. Un­less we are sat­is­fied that he will not break the law in the fu­ture we will take le­gal ac­tion.”

Ear­lier this year he is­sued a di­rec­tive ban­ning ten­ants with chil­dren un­der 18, sin­gle adults, “bat­tered wives”, pets and peo­ple on ben­e­fits among oth­ers.

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