Burger van owner found guilty after refusing to serve customer who objected to his anti-Islamic comments
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Wednesday July 12 2017
A burger van owner from Penrith has been found guilty by magistrates in Carlisle after refusing to serve a customer who argued against his anti-Islamic views.
James Gardiner, 73, was convicted of using abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, which was religiously aggravated, following the incident which took place at his van, The Ships Galley, in Penrith on 24 January earlier this year.
Gardiner began chatting to 46-year-old landscape gardener Piers Palmer, who had arrived at his van on his way to a speed awareness course.
Mr Palmer had already ordered his sausage sandwich when the conversation turned to religion and Gardiner’s views on “Muslims and Pakistanis”.
It was clear the two men had different opinions and when Gardiner produced some inflammatory anti-Islamic literature, Mr Palmer refused to read it.
Mr Palmer then reported the van owner to the police for “hate speech” and Mr Gardiner found himself before a court.
Mr Palmer told Carlisle Magistrates’ Court: “He said it was the Muslims and Pakistanis in Manchester and London who were the real problem, and not people like us.
“I was completely gobsmacked because I’d only asked for a sausage sandwich. I didn’t know how we’d got on to Muslims and Pakistanis.”
“I didn’t want to talk about it – I just wanted to eat my lunch,” said Mr Palmer.
He described how the pensioner had then lifted some sauce bottles on his counter, pulled out some laminated sheets of paper, and handed them to him, saying: “Read this if you want to educate yourself.”
When Mr Palmer refused, Gardiner told him: “Then you’re in the wrong place if you want food from me. Do one!”
Simon Farnsforth, defending Gardiner, asked Mr Palmer if he had strong views about religion and Muslims, and he replied: “I have a strong view that everyone is entitled to follow their faith.”
The court heard that Gardiner told officers in his police interview: “Muslims are taking over and that they hate Christians.”
Asked what he would do if a Muslim came to his burger van, Gardiner replied: “I’d give them a bacon butty and laugh.”
Gardiner was fined £127, with a £30 victim surcharge, and ordered to pay £50 compensation to Mr Palmer. He was also required to pay £620 prosecution costs.