Hotel’s five-star rating restored after owner apologises for ‘no poofs’ rant

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A Scottish hotel whose owner bragged about not employing any “poofs” has had its five-star rating restored.

Stewart Spence MBE, the owner of five-star Aberdeen hotel the Marcliffe, was alleged to have made the comments at the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland (HITS) event last month.

Mr Spence, a friend of billionaire property tycoon and US President-elect Donald Trump, bragged: “I’m not a poof. I have never employed a poof and I never will.”

In the wake of the incident, VisitScotland delisted the Marcliffe from its website, stripping its five-star rating, citing rules that require Quality Assurance members to comply with the Equality Act, which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The hotel’s status was restored this week, after Mr Spence issued an apology and pledged to abide by anti-discrimination laws.

VisitScotland confirmed: “Following VisitScotland’s request to confirm in writing that the Marcliffe Hotel does not operate any kind of discriminatory policies that would contravene the Equality Act 2010, the business has responded within the set time period to give us those assurances and a clear commitment to their equality policy.

“The policy covers all the key areas, including LGBTI customers and employees, and clearly sets out both the responsibility of the hotel management and the staff.

“On that basis, we are pleased to be able to remove the suspension and re-list the hotel on, including the 5 star rating.

“We look forward to continuing the positive working relationship that The Marcliffe and VisitScotland have enjoyed for many years.”

Mr Spence claimed the comments were a joke and that he does not discriminate.

He said: “I made some very ill-advised comments at the dinner and I am absolutely mortified. I would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused.

“I don’t know what I was thinking. I was hoping to raise a few laughs around the 1970s theme and while the word I used may have, regrettably, been commonplace in that generation, they were still entirely unacceptable.

“The Marcliffe is an inclusive place both for staff and customers. We welcome everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. I really regret this and am truly sorry.”