A Bedfordshire hotel faced strong criticism for hosting the conference of far-right party Britain First over the weekend. The resort, which says it was duped into holding the event, was accused of “poor judgement” for providing a venue for the party.
The Wyboston Lakes Hotel claims the organization – which came to prominence after Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim posts from its deputy leader Jayda Fransen – registered under the different name of ‘Patriot Merchandise,’ a private limited company based in Belfast.
The hotel faced a backlash as pictures emerged of party leader Paul Golding talking to dozens of people in a room adorned with the Britain First insignia and banners reading “Taking Our Country Back!”
One criticized the hotel over its decision saying:
It’s a bit ironic celebrating black music and culture while playing host to an evtreme racist and facist group like Britain First? Assume Wyboston Lakes doesn’t employ any black, Muslim or East European people?
— Ian Mancor (@MancorIan) December 3, 2017
In a statement released on Sunday evening, a spokesperson for the resort said: “For the sake of clarity, had we known the nature of the event being held by Britain First, we would not have taken the booking, as the values of our organisation conflicts with theirs in totality.”
The spokesperson said that management had no way of knowing what was going on, as banners had only been placed within the closed-off meeting room, which no staff had entered.
The spokesman added: “We can fully understand the concerns expressed, but we can only refer to our company values and principles, our standing as an award-winning employer, and assure everyone that we are deeply offended by their presence on our property.”
The hotel announced that the £2,250 ($3,015) they received from the party for the five-hour conference will now be donated to charity.
The controversy comes a week after Britain First hit the headlines when US President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos originally posted by Fransen, the group’s deputy leader who is currently facing criminal charges for using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” during speeches made in Belfast.
Following the furore, the group boasted that it had received hundreds of new membership applications and had accumulated tens of thousands more followers on social-media platforms.