Leeds club answers online critics after veteran beret removal row

Harehills Labour Club has been at the centre of a social media backlash.
Harehills Labour Club has been at the centre of a social media backlash.

A social club in Leeds has come in for “unfair criticism” online after a veteran was asked to remove his beret on Remembrance Sunday.

The incident attracted national media coverage when a number of social media posts highlighted what had happened at Harehills Labour Club and urged others to spread the word if they disapproved.

A Facebook post written by Lisa Casey about the incident.

A Facebook post written by Lisa Casey about the incident.

They told how the veteran had attendend a Remembrance event in the city and then visited the club in Florence Street while still wearing his service medals and beret.

Lisa Casey wrote: “Today on Rememberance Sunday this man was asked to remove his beret as the establishment “Harehills Labour Club”, a working man’s establishment, had a no hat policy.

“Please this is not a hat. It’s a symbol of the regiment he was honouring today. Please share as a sign of protest that it was wrong to ask for its removal.”

Another Facebook user wrote: “This is absolutely outrageous and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

However, the club said online critics had passed judgement without understanding the full story.

A committee spokeswoman said it had brought in the ‘no hats’ policy to improve safety following an incident of criminal damage in which CCTV footage proved useless because the perpetrator was wearing a baseball cap.

She said the veteran pictured in the posts had been signed in by one of the club’s members as a guest on Sunday.

When someone complained to a committee member about a “man in a hat” in the concert hall, the member who had signed him in was asked to pass on a request to remove the hat.

However, the spokeswoman said the committee member had not seen the man in question for themselves when the request was made.

“If they had said it was a veteran wearing a beret, it would have been a different kettle of fish,” she said.

The spokeswoman also highlighted a second incident on that day during which club members had tried to goad another veteran into wearing his beret to provoke a reaction from the committee.

She said that the veteran – a member of the club himself – had refused because he knew it was armed services’ policy for personnel to remove any headwear when entering a building.

Referring to the wider online backlash, she added: “Some of these people have been just awful. I can’t get my head around it. They’re speaking about an incident they didn’t even see.”

Cori Braham.

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