Legal action begins against Fergus Wilson after property tycoon banned ‘coloured’ tenants making his homes ‘stink of curry’
PUBLISHED: 14:42 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:43 17 May 2017
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has applied for an injuction against the landlord
Legal action has begun against millionaire propety tycoon Fergus Wilson, who banned Indian and Pakistani tenants from renting his properties because he claimed they left homes smelling of curry.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it has applied for an injunction at Central London County Court against the landlord, who lives in Boughton Monchelsea, over his controversial lettings policy.
Speaking to Kent News earlier this year, Mr Wilson, who failed in a bid to run for the role of Kent’s police and crime commissioner, insisted his motivation in enforcing the ban was to avoid financial risk, after spending thousands of pounds removing the smell of curry from one of his properties.
“Yes, I accept not every individual coloured person likes and eats curry but I think a high proportion do and I had to go on probabilities,” he told us at the time, denying accusations of racism.
EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: “We have asked the court if it agrees with us that Mr Wilson’s lettings policy contains unlawful criteria and, if so, to issue an injunction. As this is now formal legal action we will release further information at a later date.”
Mr Wilson, long regarded as Britain’s biggest buy-to-let investor with hundreds of properties in Kent, said: “Like any business we are consistently fine-tuning to best advantage.”
Defending his latest lettings criteria, he said: “I am merely taking economic steps to ensure that we do not end up with people who are unable to pay their rent.”
He added: “Given that I have not had any Indian or Pakistani person apply for a house during the past five years, I am not sure what the EHRC seeks to achieve.”
Mr Wilson said single parents, “battered wives” and zero-hours workers tended to be on low incomes and unable to meet the financial criteria to obtain a rent guarantee.
Although Indians and Pakistanis were not included on his latest banned list, Mr Wilson said he would still not house them due to previous experiences.
He insisted he is not racist, and that he has rented to “non-white” people, including Gurkhas. He said his stance is based on an economic judgment.
Mr Wilson said: “It is not the colour of their skin, but the smell of the curry.”
He went on: “The issue is that a person is quite entitled not to purchase a house that smells of curry but to purchase the house next door which does not smell of curry. The EHRC appears to be saying that the purchaser then must let the house to someone who does cook curry.”
Advocacy group Hope Not Hate has described Mr Wilson as “the unacceptable face of the housing crisis” and compared him to racist bigot Alf Garnett from BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part.