A dad has been barred from a branch of Wetherspoon after confronting staff who stopped his 13-year-old son from drinking an ‘alcohol-free’ cider.
Ian Richardson, 49, was returning from a shopping trip with his son, Edward, when he decided to pay a visit to The Regal on St Andrew’s Street in Cambridge for a pint.
Upon entering the pub, Ian ordered a beer for himself and a bottle of alcohol-free Strawberry and Lime Kopparberg for his son.
At the time, Ian claimed the staff member who served him had ‘no problem whatsoever’ handing over the drink to the 13-year-old.
But, after they had taken a seat, Ian claimed a member of staff came and took the bottle from the table.
‘A few seconds later, the same chap comes along and asks my son for ID,’ Ian said.
‘I’m sat there thinking ‘what the blazes is going on here?’ It was just ridiculous.
‘I said “this seems strange” and I want to speak to the duty manager’.’
Ian Richardson, 49, was returning from a shopping trip with his son, Edward, 13, when he decided to pay a visit to The Regal on St Andrew’s Street for a pint
According to Ian, the duty manager came out and informed him that it was against the pub’s policy to allow under-18s to consume drinks with alcoholic content in the establishment.
Alcohol-free Kopparberg contains ‘not more than 0.05% vol’, meeting the legal requirements for a ‘non-alcoholic’ drink in the UK.
Ian added: ‘I took the glass with my right hand and I held it out, away from the table and away from this duty manager and said to my son ‘take this, drink it as quickly as possible’.
‘The duty manager reached over the table and smashed the drink out of my hand, at which point I turned around and said ‘I’m reporting you to senior management’.’
A furious Ian then left the pub with his son.
‘I feel quite angry,’ Ian said.
‘I feel quite put out towards Wetherspoons in general, whereas I have had perfectly good service in the past.’
As a young boy, Ian said he was allowed to drink Shandy Bass, a low-alcohol beverage with a higher alcohol content than the alcohol-free Kopparberg.
He said: ‘What I drank was 100 times stronger. If I caught him drinking something like that, I would basically frog march him down to the police station.
‘It’s three miles away but I’d still do it.’
Ian continued: ‘To be punished for following the law is, in my opinion, seriously out of order, and my son was thirsty as a result.’
When approached for comment, a Wetherspoon spokesman took issue with Ian’s version of events.
The young man was drinking a bottle of Kopparberg’s alcohol free strawberry and lime cider, which like most nonalcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks has a trace amount of acohol in it
He said: ‘We are fully aware of the incident which we dispute.
‘A staff member told the manager that he sold a pint of beer to a gentleman who had also ordered a non-alcoholic strawberry and lime Kopparberg. The gentleman then sat down on a table in front of the bar with his son and handed the drink to him.
‘The staff member wanted confirmation on the rules regarding the serving of non-alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks in relation to under 18s.
‘It was explained to him that if the drink has an alcohol content, which the non-alcoholic Kopparberg does (0.05%), then the under 18 should not be drinking it.
‘The staff member then went over to the son and asked him for his ID where the gentleman stated that it was an alcohol-free drink and regardless of whether he had ID or not, he was allowed to drink it.
‘The staff member told the manager that the father wouldn’t let him take the drink away and asked the manager to go and speak with him.
‘When the pub manager approached the father, he became instantly defensive and repeated the same statements.
‘The manager tried to explain the rules and policy on the matter but the gentleman wouldn’t listen. When the son was asked for ID, his father told the manager that his son didn’t need ID for the drink.
‘The gentleman grabbed the drink and handed it to his son, telling him to drink it as they were leaving the pub.
‘The manager reached out and tried to grab the drink, but the man moved his arm away and dropped the drink onto the floor, shouting there had been an assault and that he would be reporting the manager to the police.
‘Wetherspoon stands 100 per cent with the pub’s manager and the company is more than happy to hand over CCTV to the police to show the entire incident on film.
‘The gentlemen is now barred from the pub.’
When informed of Wetherspoons’ decision to bar him from the pub, Ian said he wasn’t aware. He added that he ‘couldn’t care less’ and that he has other places to go to drink.