Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has today taken aim at The Independent after the publisher made inaccurate claims about him.

The pub chain chairman has hit out at the newspaper after it published an article containing a number of "inaccurate and misleading statements" relating to Wetherspoon's responses to the closure of pubs in March 2020during the CV19 pandemic.

The article said: "But he [Mr Martin] has also sparked controversy, including by suggesting his 40,000 staff should go to work at Tesco amid uncertainty over their futures due to the coronavirus pandemic"

"In the early days of Covid-19, Mr Martin indicated the company would not continue to pay employees who were not now working after pubs in the UK were closed to stop the spread of the virus"

The statements are incorrect. At no time did Mr Martin tell employees that Wetherspoon would not continue to pay them during the initial lockdown. And Mr Martin did not suggest that employees "should go to work at Tesco".

In a statement to investors this morning, Mr Martin described those behind the articles as "slow learners".

"In 2020, the Independent newspaper made a number of false claims about Wetherspoon which it corrected, following representations from Wetherspoon's legal department," he said.

"Unfortunately, apparently unaware of the previous corrections, the Independent repeated the same false allegations in December 2023.

"We are pleased that the Independent has now published a fifth correction. We are glad to be able to help slow learners at the Independent."

The Independent has now updated the article and posted a correction, which reads: "This article was amended on 10 January 2024. It previously said that Mr Martin had suggested his 40,000 staff should go to work at Tesco amid pandemic uncertainty, but this was inaccurate.

"In fact, Mr Martin had said that if staff were offered a job in a supermarket, he would understand if they wanted to take it. Wetherspoon has also asked that we clarify that all its staff were paid by Wetherspoon up until the point of pub closures, after which staff received furlough pay on an uninterrupted basis without any delay to payment. We are happy to do so."

FTSE 100

The UK's flagship share index, the FTSE 100, was up three-points at 7,628 shortly after opening this morning.

Brent crude oil futures were down 0.01% today, trading at $78.28 per barrel.

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