Friday, 1 Mar 2024

NFL star who took over 'one of the UK's prettiest pubs' in racism row

EXCLUSIVE Former NFL star who took over ‘one of the UK’s prettiest pubs’ becomes locked in a row with a wealthy landowner after claiming he is being forced out of business because of his race

  •  Lorne Sam, 39, played for the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos in the NFL

An American footballer-turned English country pub landlord is locked in a court row with the landed gentry – after claiming he is being forced out of business because he is black and from the United States.

Lorne Sam, 39, spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos in the NFL, before moving from the high-impact sport to the more genteel surroundings of the Carington Arms in Leicestershire.

According to its website, the pub is ‘probably the prettiest’ in the county.

But noses have been left out of joint after Mr Sam claimed he had been ‘treated differently’ from previous tenants of the pub because of his background.

Mr Sam became embroiled in a public row – which has now reached the courts – with Alex Stroud, scion of historic local lords of the manor, the Smith-Carington family, and one of the controllers of the land trust which owns the pub in the village of Ashby Folville. Mr Sam said he was forced to close after a falling out with the owners over the interior decor of the historic inn.

Lorne Sam, 39, claimed he had been ‘treated differently’ from previous tenants of the pub because of his background

His lawyers say the fact that he is ‘American and black’ is at the root of the difficulties and allege ‘racial discrimination,’ something which Mr Stroud has strenuously denied and branded ‘ludicrous’.

Mr Stroud, 54, is spearheading a bid by the Trustees of the Ashby Folville Land Trust (AFLT) to evict Mr Sam’s company, Carington Hospitality Ltd, on the grounds that he owes £13,000 in rent arrears.

In a written defence submitted to Leicester County Court, Mr Sam’s barrister, Philip Noble, said that after his client took over the 19th-century inn near Melton Mowbray, he was visited by Mr Stroud and his wife Lucy. 

The lawyer said the Strouds ‘informed him of how the decor of the pub should be improved to their taste and how the catering could be improved to cater for their friends following shooting parties’ on the estate.

Mr Noble added: ‘They asked Lorne Sam to carry out other improvements to the decor and finish in the property, despite no such improvements being necessary or required under the lease.

‘They made it plain that they relied (on) the pub to host post-shooting parties… and asked Lorne Sam to organise the kitchen to cater for those demands.’ 

Mr Noble said his client had suggested in August that he was ‘being treated differently to the previous tenants and raised the possibility that that treatment might be because of his race and colour’. But AFLT instead ‘determined to exclude the defendant from the premises’.

Mr Noble told the judge that the £13,000 arrears were run up before Mr Sam took over the company and an agreement had been made with the trustees that a payment of £4,961 he made in February this year would clear the pub’s debt.

Mr Stroud, 54, is spearheading a bid by the Trustees of the Ashby Folville Land Trust (AFLT) to evict Mr Sam’s company, Carington Hospitality Ltd, on the grounds that he owes £13,000 in rent arrears

Lorne Sam, 39, spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos in the NFL, before moving from the high-impact sport to the more genteel surroundings of the Carington Arms in Leicestershire

According to its website, the Carington Arms in Leicestershire is ‘probably the prettiest’ in the county

Russell Davies, solicitor for the trustees, denied that Mr Sam or his company had been treated differently. He said the Strouds regularly visited the Carington Arms as they lived nearby, and were ‘keen to encourage the success of the business, including the introduction of custom’. It was denied ‘that they sought to direct’ Mr Sam’s business and detailed how Mr Stroud organised and paid for recarpeting, installation of new pipework and a radiator at the pub, ‘despite being under no obligation to do so’.

Mr Davies said ‘reasonable and proportionate’ attempts to recover unpaid rent had been made, but Mr Sam’s company had not kept to an agreed repayment schedule. In emails between Mr Sam and Mr Stroud, which Mr Sam later posted on the pub’s Facebook page, Mr Stroud said: ‘Lucy and I were delighted from day one and we have welcomed you with open arms.

‘Any suggestions of you being treated differently because of the colour of your skin or your nationality is deeply offensive, massively upsetting and ludicrous.’

The case is expected to go to a full trial next year.

Source: Read Full Article

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