Fringe venue apologises to Bad Education actor after claims of ‘racial profiling’

Layton Williams says he was asked to leave the Assembly Hall and accused staff of racial profiling.
Layton Williams says he was asked to leave the Assembly Hall and accused staff of racial profiling.

A WEST End star has accused bouncers at one of the Fringe’s top venues of “racial profiling” after he was thrown out in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Layton Williams, best known as one of the boys who played the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical, told how Assembly Hall staff mistook him for a gatecrasher. The mixed race actor - who also starred alongside Jack Whitehall in TV comedy Bad Education - has received an apology from the George Square Gardens venue for the way its staff behaved. They have also promsied to investigate the incident further.

“A way to ruin my @edfringe experience!,” the 23-year-old actor posted on Twitter. “I just got KICKED OUT of @AssemblyFest coz I looked ‘suspicious’! “After asking security the reason why, apparently I looked liked someone who jumped the fence two weeks ago.” He also alleged a woman security guard “flipped a finger at him” when he asked their names to make a complaint.

“Call it profiling or call it racial profiling. Whatever it is, it was a joke and I hope they don’t do this to anyone else again!” he added.

In an video posted online, Mr Williams, said : “I’m furious. I can prove to them that I wasn’t here two weeks ago because I was elsewhere. I’ve got the receipts but they don’t want to see.”

Fellow actor and Eastenders star Danny-Boy Hatchard posted a picture apparently of the woman security guard making the rude gesture, saying: “Look at her. Couldn’t give a s***... good to know you have high standards when hiring security.@AssemblyFest Is racial profiling a requirement?”

There was widespread support for the English actor from festival goers, fans and fellow actors – some claiming to have endured similar experiences.

Tessie Orange-Turner posted: “The same thing happened to 2 of my black male friends last night at Assembly Bar. Their excuse was ‘they need passes’. I was let in WITHOUT a pass, as well as the group I was with (about 8, most white). I asked around the bar and many, MANY guests were let in WITHOUT A PASS.”

Mr Williams later asked Fringe bosses to contact him to discuss his concerns, adding: “Your staff at @AssemblyFest were horrifically rude, uncooperative and quite frankly, abusive!”

Fellow actor and musical star Callum Francis tweeted his support: “That hideous women that flipped you off. No. That’s not cool. Hope that gets fixed.”

Managing Director of Assembly Festival, Sharon Burgess, sought to reassure cast and crowds her venues are inclusive to all. “Assembly Festival would like to apologise for how the incident in George Square Gardens was handled by our security last night,” said Ms Burgess.

“We are currently looking into the situation with our security contractor and will be investigating this further.

“Assembly would like to reassure all performers and audiences that we are committed to making sure that our spaces remain welcoming for everyone attending our shows and using our venues.”