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Old 09-04-2008, 09:24 AM
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Angry Soldier forced to sleep in car after hotel refuses him a room

Soldier forced to sleep in car after hotel refuses him a room

The Metro Hotel in Woking, which was under fire today

Hannah Fletcher

A wounded soldier home from Afghanistan on sick leave was forced to spend the night in his car after a hotel refused him a room.

Corporal Tomos Stringer was told by staff at Metro Hotel, in Woking, that it was company policy not to accept members of the armed forces as guests. The 24-year-old had travelled to the Surrey town to help with funeral preparations for a friend killed in action.

It was so late that Cpl Stringer, who had broken his wrist jumping off an Army truck as it was attacked, had no choice but to bed down in his tiny, two-door car, arm covered in plaster.

Cpl Stringer, of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, has now returned to Afghanistan, but his mother, Gaynor Stringer, from Criccieth, north Wales, told The Times that she is still furious about the incident.

“I’m very, very angry. It’s discrimination. They would never get away with it if it was against someone of ethnic origin,” she said.
She said they had received neither an apology nor an explanation from the hotel, which is part of a family entertainment centre called The Big Apple and owned by a company called American Amusements.

"In America, they treat soldiers as heroes,” said Mrs Stringer, whose son joined the Army when he was 16 and has done multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

“We went to Disney World with Tomos and the whole family was moved to the front of the lines. Everybody was standing up and clapping and cheering.

“Here, soldiers can’t even get a bed for the night.”

The incident has prompted widespread condemnation from senior members of the Government, MPs, servicemen and their supporters.

Hywel Williams, the MP for Caernarfon, Derek Twigg, the Defence Minister, and Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces Minister, have written to the hotel.

Mr Twigg wrote: “Although I do not know the precise circumstances, I think it is deplorable for the management of a hotel to have a policy not to accept military personnel and that this case is especially egregious given that the individual concerned was on injury leave from Afghanistan.”

Mr Williams said: “It is unacceptable and outrageous that anyone is discriminated against in this way. “

But perhaps even more worrying for Metro Hotel are the legions of army men and enthusiasts rising up in the forums of the unofficial British Army website to call for a boycott of the hotel.

Some have suggested booking the hotel in huge numbers only to cancel it at last minute. Others are encouraging their colleagues to post negative comments on websites offering customer reviews of the hotel.

One review site has already received half a dozen such comments.

“As a serving member of the British armed forces, I’m disgusted to see that one of my colleagues was refused a room in Metro Hotel in Surrey...because their policy is to refuse all army personnel,” wrote one.

“Anyone considering using any services of this company should definitely not bother. I'm sure a more patriotic company can be found with far superior services.”

Another wrote of the hotel: “Cons - No beds for our country's heroes.”

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