Butlin’s has settled a group legal action from traveller families who claim they were discriminated against when their bookings were declined.
The claim followed complaints that travellers were being unfairly targeted over a policy that requires all booking customers to be on the Electoral Register.
Terms of the settlement are confidential and covered by a court order – but it comes a year after Butlin’s was reported to the equalities watchdog for alleged discrimination.
It first got into hot water for allegedly keeping ‘blacklists’ of Irish traveller families in 2016 after they were refused entry.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was made aware of two cases involving families’ trying to book holidays through Butlin’s – and also Pontin’s.
John O’Leary, from London, booked and paid for a holiday at Butlin’s for himself, his wife, children and other family members.
But six days before they were due to leave, he received a letter informing him that his holiday had been cancelled because he was not on the electoral roll.
“We are on the electoral register – we have lived in the same house in Camden for 20 years,” Mr O’Leary said at the time.
“Butlin’s threatened to get me arrested if I showed up with my documents. They said I was not welcome in any of their camps.”
Mr O’Leary tried ringing the manager of the holiday camp and offered to take the proof of the address and identification documents – but was told that if he did so they would call the police.
He added: “I wasn’t angry or shouting.
“I thought it was something that could be sorted out. I was in shock when I realised that they were not going to be reasonable.
“Instead they threatened to get me arrested if I showed up with my documents. They said I was not welcome in any of their camps.”
He described the two firms’ actions as “discrimination” and said he believed they were consulting “some kind of Traveller blacklist”.
In 2016, a Butlin’s spokesperson robustly defended the policy of only admitting customers who lived at an address that appeared on the Electoral Register.
They said at the time: “As with all large party sizes for breaks around the festive period, our terms state that all UK-based adults in the party must appear on the Electoral Register.
“For those who live outside the UK, we ask for proof of address for all adults in the group. It is essential that we can be certain who our guests are. The safety and security of all those who visit a Butlin’s resort is our primary concern.”
But their booking policy has now changed and – according to their website – living at an address that appears on the Electoral Register no longer appears to be an essential requirement as other forms of ID and address verification may be accepted instead.
A Butlin’s spokesman today (Weds) declined to comment on the legal claim but said: “Butlin’s has always welcomed guests from all parts and communities of the UK and beyond, provided those on the booking meet our terms and conditions, in order to ensure we always know the full identity of everyone staying on our resorts.”
The group action for the travellers was brought by the Traveller Movement, a charity committed to protecting rights of travellers. It has been approached for comment.