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Bar boycotted over ban on soldiers
A bar is being boycotted after refusing to serve family and friends of a soldier before his funeral because they were wearing their military uniforms.
Matthew Thacker and colleagues of his brother Corporal Michael Thacker were refused entry to the Browns bar in Jordan Well, Coventry. Mr Thacker was with a number of his brother's colleagues who were to act as pall-bearers during the service at the city's cathedral on Monday.
Hundreds attended the service for Cpl Thacker, who was killed on duty in Afghanistan earlier this month. Now nearly 50,000 have joined a Facebook group calling for a boycott of the Browns bar this Saturday, which is Armed Forces Day.
Those who have set up the page on the social networking website wrote: "The family have requested that no protest action should be taken, it is Armed Forces Day this Saturday and would be grateful to simply boycott Browns, ignore the place entirely and celebrate the job every military personnel are doing for this country day in day out!
"This group is not about damaging the building, violence or a witch-hunt. Ultimately, the family would like an apology for the disrespect shown to them on an already tough day. Please do not post comments aiming violence or damage towards Browns. This is a peaceful group."
On Wednesday the owner of the Browns Cafe and Bar in Coventry, Ken Brown, apologised for the incident.
In a statement, he said: "Two uniformed military personnel visited my bar with a view to purchasing a coffee and were refused by my staff as it is company policy not to serve anyone in uniform. I was not present on the premises at the time.
"I have since been made aware of why these soldiers were in Coventry and had I known of the circumstances, I would have willingly served them. I am genuinely sorry for the distress caused to the family of the late Corporal Michael Thacker and through the military family liaison officer I have sent an unreserved apology to his widow Catherine and the soldiers concerned."
Chief Inspector Kerry Blakeman, who is responsible for local policing in Coventry, said: "Last night we were made aware by social media that there was a Facebook group that had been set up in relation to boycotting Browns restaurant and it was a considerable amount of people who had joined that group. As a result this morning we made some inquiries into what had happened on Monday."
He said Cpl Thacker's wife Catherine had accepted an unreserved apology from Mr Brown on Wednesday morning.