While anti-racist campaigners that had taken part in the demonstration against the two local lettings agencies exposed for illegal racist practices by the BBC prepared their next moves, A-Z Property Services tried to reclaim some credibility in the community by issuing a series of statements via the Kilburn Times.
To suggest these claims were contradictory would be an understatement; on the one hand they claimed to have fallen foul of a “persistent campaign of deceit and entrapment” led by the BBC’s undercover team. On the other hand they “apologise unreservedly for any offence that may have been caused by our naivety”. This is obviously the rather fancy variant on that infant school playground staple “Yes, Miss, I know I did wrong, but it wasn’t my fault Miss – they made me do it!” You were caught on camera making offensive and illegal sectarian comments – but it was the BBC’s fault for filming it.
You got caught. Why did you get caught? In your own words, please: “It was a severe error in judgement made to secure new business.” You got caught because you were greedy; you were happy to throw away any notion of common humanity, any responsibility to the local community for some racist-tainted cold-hearted cold hard cash. Money. You broke the law for money. Most people would term that “avarice” not “naivety”.
Is it this avarice that has led to this mealy-mouthed self-excusing apology? Your business must be hurting. Councillor Margaret McLennan, Brent’s Housing Lead has already confirmed that the council has cut links with both of these businesses and has reported them to the local Trading Standards. The council is also writing to all the lettings agents in the borough to ensure this isn’t repeated elsewhere. Advice4Renters have produced a series of display posters for those letting agents who are committed to working with all sectors of the community, which has a dedicated complaints line number displayed. In the distant future there are still the possible spectres of involvement by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and ultimately, the judicial system.
But A-Z Property Services at least made an attempt to apologies. National Estate Agents have made no public comment at all… but there has been a rumour – probably malicious – on the streets that the staff there have been heard to protest: “But we’re not racist, some of our best friends are black…”
The demonstration will meet at 11:30am out National Estate Agents at 75 High Road, NW10 2SU and then proceed to A-Z Property Services at 274 High Road, Willesden.
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