Bury market boss tells halal curry maker: Sorry, you can’t have a stall

Bury's Artisan Markets

A curry maker was left stunned after being refused a market stall – because his products were halal.

Jeff Thomson, founder of Curried Away, asked for a plot on Bury’s Artisan Markets. But he was shocked when Paul Barrah, who operates the markets on behalf of the town’s council, replied to his email simply saying: “Hi, I’m sorry but my markets don’t use halal products. Regards, Paul.”

Bury council has now launched an investigation into the matter and say they will meet Mr Barrah who organises the market days in Ramsbottom, Prestwich, Radcliffe and Whitefield, to discuss the issue.

Jeff, 62, described how he contacted Mr Barrah, saying that his business was an Asian food market selling curries and snacks to take home or eat on go.

He wrote that all his food was halal – food prepared to make it permissible to eat under Islamic law. Jeff, who is Scottish, said: “I was looking around for markets to host my stall for next year. I picked this market, emailed them and got the response back that they don’t do halal.

“I was shocked because I have not come across this before. All the markets I have dealt with in the past, this hasn’t been an issue. In these days of ethnic, cultural and religious integration it surprised and disappointed me to find a market operator who doesn’t accept halal products. I am pleased Bury council seems to have taken the matter on board and plans to meet their market contractor.”

Jeff, who used to live in Bolton, and now lives in Burnley, launched Curried Away in 2009 after retiring from a 40-year career in PR and marketing. He already trades at markets in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Ashton-under-Lyne – and was looking to expand by selling his food in Bury.

A council spokesman said: “Bury council currently has a contract with Mr Barrah who operates Farmers Markets in Ramsbottom, Prestwich, Radcliffe and Whitefield. The current contract runs until March 2013. We will be investigating this matter and will be seeking to meet with Mr Barrah before the next market on January 13 in Ramsbottom to discuss the issue and seek his views.

“Although it is considered that he is not in breach of his existing contract we would consider assessing the wording of any new contracts issued after March 2013 to ensure that they fall in line with the council’s equality policies.”

Mr Barrah declined to comment.

Manchester Evening News, 24 December 2012

You’ll note that the report is headlined, in typical taboid press style, “Fury as Bury market boss tells halal curry maker: Sorry, you can’t have a stall”. It seems that nobody can express concern about anti-Muslim discrimination, even in the mildest and most reasonable terms, without being accused of reacting with “fury”.