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Scottish hotelier in hot water over homophobic language at HIT Grampian dinner

24 October 2016 by

Hotelier Stewart Spence has apologised for using the word "p**f" in a comment about homosexuals at a Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) dinner in Aberdeen.

Spence, who was holding the event at his Marcliffe hotel, was reported to have stunned guests by using the word while speaking at the event, billed as "Thursday Night Fever" and advertised using a mocked up photo of himself as John Travolta in front of a glitter ball.

The comment prompted Steve Harris, chief executive of Visit Aberdeenshire, to comment: "Odd day for a homophobic rant at the @HITScotland dinner in #Aberdeen. Wonder if the media will report it?"

Odd day for a homophobic rant at the dinner in . Wonder if the media will report it?

Reported in the Mirror, Spence said he felt "extreme shame and embarrassment" over the remark.

He said: "I made some very ill-advised comments and I am absolutely mortified today. I would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused.

"I was hoping to raise a few laughs around the '70s theme and while the words I used may have been commonplace in that generation, they were still entirely unacceptable.

"The Marcliffe is an inclusive place for staff and customers. We welcome everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. I really regret this."

Harris, who later questioned on Twitter whether or not he would go to the Marcliffe again or if HIT Scotland would return there, said: "As the official tourism body for the region, we seek to encourage visits from everyone. The LGBT community will find a warm welcome here.

"I am confident the views expressed by one individual last night do not reflect those of the industry nor of the local people, who are well known for their generous welcome."

A spokesperson for HIT said: "We strongly disagree with the homophobic views and comments expressed.

"They were a complete surprise and as shocking as they were inaccurate to the truth of the hospitality industry."

Spence, 68, had announced plans to retire in 2013 and planned to sell his hotel but in 2015 it emerged that he had a change of heart and has held onto ownership of the property.

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