A CAFE owner has become the target of an online hate campaign on Facebook after he asked a young woman with learning difficulties to leave for being noisy.

Andy Innell, owner of the Pier West Cafe, in Western Esplanade, Southend, has since apologised, but his actions have sparked a storm of protest on social media.

The young woman, who is believed to have been with a party from a school in Barnet, North London, was said to have been disrupting other customers.

Mr Innell said he had simply done what he felt was right at the time.

He added: “I have made an apology on Facebook for offending anyone.

“It was never my intention to offend them. It’s not our policy to discriminate against anyone.

That would be counter-productive to our business.

“I was concerned for the safety of other customers and asked the young woman to go outside until she had calmed down.

“This is the second time this party has visited us. It came last year without any problems. I have since invited them to come back and have lunch with us.”

Despite the apology, Facebook users have continued to accuse Mr Innell of breaking anti-discrimination laws, condemning his actions as “horrific” and “disgusting”.

Mr Innell said: “There have been some terrible things said on Facebook, which are disgusting and untrue. I just hope that this all blows over soon.”

Kerry Green, 36, of The Rundells, Thundersley, who has an autistic daughter, Ella, 13, said she felt Mr Innell’s reaction to the young woman had been ill-judged. She explained said: “Making a noise can be a trait of autism.

“Mr Innell has made a flimsy apology. It’s disgraceful and I can’t believe people with special needs are still being discriminated against in this way.

“We are trying to establish independence for people with learning difficulties and autism and if they can’t go into a situation like this, how can they be independent?”

Facebook comments

I WILL never enter that place. I am a carer and there is no excuse at all for being nasty to disabled people. They’re human END OF! The manager and staff should be ashamed. I have told many to avoid this place. I was disgusted to hear of this.

I WAS distraught to read about a family with a non neurotypical child facing this. I will never be taking my son to this place and will advise against it for any of my friends with children with additional needs. As for suggesting carers should plan better, certainly, but please arrange a cavalcade of helpers to carry everything required for every possible eventuality, including the ones that have never happened before. If you have never been around an autistic child, please take time to read a book called The Reason I Jump, by Naoki Higashida

PIER West cafe is one of my favourite restaurants, with great food and beautiful staff. These are not evil people and I feel this entire thing has become a game of Chinese whispers, where no one
really knows what happened. This is exactly why people who have no idea about the event should stop adding fuel to the fire. It’s obviously a very touchy subject, so it’s important the facts are given, so as to not ruin a beautiful establishment which has worked incredibly hard to build itself up.