One of Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlords has been told he must rent to Indian and Pakistani tenants after he originally refused them because they reportedly made “houses smell like curry”.
Yesterday Fergus Wilson was ordered to drop the “abhorrent” policy by a judge after he was challenged by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for discrimination.
It comes after the property mogul, who previously owned as many as 1,000 homes across Kent, emailed a local letting agency informing them of his policy of “no coloured people because of curry smell”.
The email, which was leaked in March, provoked outcry among equality campaigners, who branded his comments “truly disgusting” and “unlawful”.
In a later exchange with the EHRC, Mr Wilson told the watchdog that: “I refuse to take tenants from a group of people that produce curry smells. I take just about anyone except Pakistanis and Indians.”
At Maidstone county court, judge Richard Polden granted an injunction against Mr Wilson, telling the court that the policy “clearly amounts to discrimination”.
“I find the policy is unlawful. Such a policy has no place in our society. I reject Mr Wilson’s case that this was a joke. This was not consistent with his pre-action correspondence with EHRC.”
Speaking to reporters outside of court following the judgment, Mr Wilson maintained there was a "problem" with people "cooking curries" in their homes.
He denied that he was racist, and claimed that the judgment would put off potential landlords looking to enter the market, because they would not be able to select according to their own preferences.
Welcoming the judgment, Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said that the injunction granted against Mr Wilson was a victory for a “more equal Britain”.
"Denial of a home on the grounds of race or colour is abhorrent conduct we do not accept in today's society,” she continued.
"There are still deep inequalities in our country, as our race report earlier this year demonstrated, and sadly some of the causes of those inequalities were illustrated by Mr Wilson's comments over the summer.”
The injunction, granted for three years, will prevent Mr Wilson from imposing policies which bar residents based on race.
If he breaches the order he could be found in contempt of court, facing jail or a hefty fine.