If someone breaks something in a shop, particularly a large shop with a big turnover, it is common practice to clean the mess up and write off the loss. If it’s something like wine or spirits, the customer might be charged for the broken item. If the customer appears to be drunk, they may be ordered to leave the store.
Unless they become violent, that is all that the shop staff, including security guards, are permitted to do. Even if the customer is belligerent, any unwanted contact is assault, and in such circumstances the police should be called. Even the police have to be careful about using force as, if it is determined that it is unwarranted, that is also assault.
Very little of this applies to disabled campaigner Jules Clarke who, on Wednesday, was forcibly ejected from his local Tesco store in Manchester, by security guards too stupid to understand the limits of their powers of arrest. (They are the same as those of anyone else who doesn’t carry a warrant card, only valid if you are absolutely certain of a conviction.)
I’m not exactly sure of Jules’ condition, and in any case I’m not medically qualified. Suffice it to say it involves extreme tiredness, which looks, to the wilfully uninformed, a little like drunkenness.
At the till, before paying, Jules dropped a bottle of wine. He was then physically thrown out of the store, in part because one of the security guards could smell booze. After a bottle of wine was broken. Such stupidity must take a special effort.
Jules was left bruised and battered, not just physically, but mentally too. If such an attack can happen in a famous store like Tesco, what place could be safe?
Tesco have a remarkable talent for courting bad publicity, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall‘s campaign about cruelty to chickens to Tesco’s involvement in the government’s workfare scam. Tesco like to ignore such complaints, presumably hoping the fuss will just die down, and this seems, so far, to be the approach they are taking with Jules.
They have relayed an apology of sorts, via Twitter, but they didn’t seem very sincere to me. They also replied to someone commenting on Jules’ plight with these words:
Please be assured that everyone is welcome to Tesco and we take fair treatment of all of our customers seriously
Fine words, but that was their position before the attack on Jules, so why should anyone believe them now?
The trouble is (from their point of view) people, including disabled people, are much better connected these days, and news that would once be tucked away in local papers now spreads like wildfire.
I found out about this on Twitter. So will all my friends. And their friends. And their friends. And so on…..
Some of them are Tesco customers. For now.