Lesbian couple lose pub court case
A Hertfordshire landlady accused of excluding two lesbian police officers from her pub on homophobic grounds was cleared of a public order offence on Tuesday.
Magistrates in St. Albans ruled that due to “significant inconsistencies” in the evidence given by prosecution witnesses, Nicola Hackett, 38, would not be prosecuted.
Ms. Hackett told The Sun : “I’m over the moon. It has been very, very traumatic for me.”
The landlady Old Cock Inn, Harpenden, was accused of shouting at the couple, Nicola Stewart and Lisa Curchin: “We don’t want that fucking thing or your sort in here.”
The couple’s alleged heavy petting caused two regular customers to complain that their behaviour was “inappropriate for a public place” to assistant manager Rhian Roderick, who passed on their concerns to the landlady.
Ms. Roderick told the courts she had been “shocked and disgusted,” and had heard that “one of the ladies had her hand up the inner thigh of the other’s short trousers”
The incident took place on 1st April last year when the couple were drinking in the Old Cock Inn with PC Stewart’s sister, Michelle Stewart, and her partner Ashley Smith, whilst waiting for a taxi.
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They had been at a restaurant beforehand, celebrating a friend’s birthday.
PC Stewart told the court how Ms. Hackett had demanded to know if they were going to buy any more drinks, before asking them to leave.
She also denied that she and her partner had done anything more overt than hold hands and kiss on the cheek, and told Dunstable Today : “We were shocked at her aggressive manner.”
Whilst Ms. Hackett admitted to swearing at the couple, she denied banging her fists on their table as accused, and said that her words should not have caused “alarm or distress”.
Ms. Hackett said: “I have nothing against gay people but I can’t have my customers being made to feel uncomfortable by public displays of passion – whether it be from gay or heterosexual couples.”
Her solicitor, Sean Minihan, dismissed the grievance of the police officers, saying that the prosecution case “beggars belief”, and stressed that his client should be entitled to ask people in her pub to refrain from behaviour that might make other customers uncomfortable.