Shopkeeper - I’m so sorry for soldier row

The notice in the window of Alpha News
The notice in the window of Alpha News

A St Helens shopkeeperwho refused to serve a soldier because he was in his army uniform has apologised for causing offence.

Rashid Patel, of Alpha News in the Hardshaw Centre St Helens, sparked outrage by refused to sell cigarettes to 27-year-old Duane Fahy.

The incident caused an outcry on social media when Pte Fahy wrote on Facebook that he’d been turned away from the shop.

However, Mr Patel has insisted that he thought he was not allowed to serve cigarettes to army personnel in military uniforms and has issued a full apology.

Following the incident, he has been subjected to a torrent of vile, racist abuse. Police are now investigating online slurs against Mr Patel. Pte Fahy also deleted the photo from his page due to the comments from other people.

Mr Patel said: “I fully support the work of the army, I would never discriminate against a soldier.

“I thought I couldn’t sell cigarettes to army personnel in uniform. I have since spoke to trading standards and was told this was not the case.

“As a result I put a sign outside my shop apologising for my mistake and I want to say I’m sorry too. I have had a lot of abuse since on the internet but also people coming into my shop saying very hurtful things.

“My family is hard-working and contributes to society. I do sincerely apologise to anyone who has been offended by what has happened but it was a genuine error.”

A spokesman for the army said it was “disappointed” at Pte Fahy’s treatment but declined to comment after Mr Patel issued an apology.

Merseyside Police said hate crime unit Sigma is looking into offensive and threatening comments posted online.