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By By Matthew 28/06 Updated: 28/06 11:55
THOUSANDS of people have expressed outrage after a city centre bar turned away two grieving soldiers - because they were wearing their military uniform.
Browns in Earl Street has been slammed for its decision, which it said was company policy, after a Facebook group calling for a boycott of the venue attracted over 80,000 in just one day.
The soldiers were in the city on Monday for the funeral of Keresley soldier Michael Thacker, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 1.
They had asked for coffee during a break in the build-up to the service but were turned away.
The pair, who were joined by their commanding officers, were pallbearers at the funeral and one of the men was Corporal Thacker's brother Matthew, also a corporal in the same regiment.
Widow Catherine Thacker, who lives in Keresley with two-year-old daughter Millie, said the people of Coventry "would never forget the lack of respect shown" to her family by Browns.
Owner Ken Brown was forced into an apology yesterday (Wedndesday) after initially refusing to comment on the matter. HIs apology is understood to have been accepted by Mrs Thacker.
He said: "I have since been made aware of why these soldiers were in Coventry and had I known of the circumstances I would have willingly served them.
"I am genuinely sorry for the distress caused to the family."
Willenhall resident Katie Jonas, who set up the Facebook group, said she was 'gutted and gobsmacked' the soldiers were not allowed in.
She told the Observer: "I set up the group on Tuesday evening for my friends to be aware of what happened but three hours later it had 20,000 members.
"The response by people has been overwhelming although some people have been calling for a protest."
Chief Inspector Kerry Blakeman called for calm and said the force was concerned threats towards Mr Brown and his business had been made on social networking sites.
He said: "We need to stress Mr Brown has offered an unreserved apology to widow Catherine Thacker, who has accepted that apology.
"She does not want any kind of violence or threats towards Mr Brown or his premises."
A parade on Saturday to mark Armed Forces Day is set to pass the venue and city councillor Ed Ruane called on Mr Brown to make a goodwill gesture for the event.
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