Swindon artist banned from every Debenhams over rape jibe
A 75-year-old artist and army veteran has been banned from every Debenhams store in the country for life after claims he threatened to rape a member of staff.
But Arthur Tayler, of Tudor Walk, Walcot, denies the rape threat, saying his comments have been misconstrued.
Mr Tayler had been a customer at the Swindon Debenhams for 19 years, and had his breakfast in the store’s cafe every day.
But the store’s duty manager said he was forced to take action after Mr Tayler was abusive to staff on a number of occasions, culminating in the threat. Debenhams has a zero tolerance policy on staff abuse.
Mr Tayler said: “I used to go into Debenhams every morning for weeks and would have my breakfast in there. I would easily spend £100 a week.
“On the day I went in there and had my breakfast, like I always do. I was talking to one of the shop assistants, and we were talking about the army and all the soldiers who have died, which gets me very upset.
“She did not come back at me and she has now said I verbally abused her. I loved all the girls in there and I would have a laugh and a joke with them.
“I do get abusive sometimes when I have had a few, I will admit that. I am aware of it when I do it. I had not been drinking that morning.
“I might have said some things that could have been misconstrued. I was telling her she hadn’t done anything for her country.
“I was coming down the escalator when I saw someone at the bottom waiting for me.
“They slapped me with this letter without saying a word, and then two security guards marched me out of the store.
“I must have said something I regret. If I said something wrong, she took it the wrong way. I think they are trying to get rid of me by making this up. It is me who has been punished.”
A Debenhams spokesman said: “The incident happened on August 21 at 1.30pm. The abuse was mainly to do with inappropriate language toward the store management team, as well as sexual comments towards female members of staff and customers.
“On the day in question Mr Tayler said ‘If you do not shut up I will take you round the back and rape you’.
“It was said in a very loud voice, and was heard by a large group of customers, and the cosmetics supervisor, and was directed toward a member of the cosmetics team.
“Mr Tayler was a long standing customer, and the abuse had been going on for an extended period of time.
“The safety of our staff is paramount to us and we have a zero tolerance policy of any abuse directed at our staff. The customer in question had a history of being abusive, and his sexually threatening comment left us with no alternative but to ban him permanently.”
The dad-of-five, who moved to Swindon from West Bromwich in the 1950s when he was 15, has been an artist after serving in the army for nine years.