Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Foreign ban postmaster leaves job

Deva Kumarasiri
Mr Kumarasiri said he could not serve people if he did not understand them

A postmaster from Nottingham who refused to serve customers who could not speak English has left his job.

Sri Lankan-born Deva Kumarasiri, who worked at the sub post office on Sneinton Boulevard, made the national news after announcing his policy.

He had claimed non-English speakers frustrated other customers and made it difficult to do his job properly.

Mr Kumarasiri said most people supported him but a "small minority" launched a petition against him.

"I was forced out by a small minority of people who don't want to integrate into society," he said.

He claimed he was threatened and said Muslim leaders in the community started a petition against him, so he moved at his own request.

He said he would now work at a different branch.

Managers at the Post Office said the service was for all and they were concerned about the impact on trade.

There were also reports Polish migrants had been boycotting the branch.

I suspect people in this country would be offended by what this man was doing
John Heppell MP
Abida Raja, whose family runs the branch, said they had to take action: "It was my brother's decision because obviously he was very upset by those comments, because we're losing customers because of it.

"He had to do something about it, because obviously we don't feel that way about anyone else, we don't discriminate against any customer coming in, because obviously the customers keep the business going."

Mr Kumarasiri's policy had also been criticised by the local Racial Equality Council and MP for Nottingham East, John Heppell.

Mr Heppell said: "This was a little bit strange. What do you do with tourists?

"If I was abroad and if someone refused to sell me a stamp because my French or German was not good enough, I think I would have every right to be offended and I suspect people in this country would be offended by what this man was doing."

Mr Kumarasiri had told the BBC he had turned away about six customers who had wasted his time and annoyed other customers by not being able to understand English.

He had said: "I am part of a service but how can I serve them if I don't understand what they are asking for?

"When I came to England I obeyed the British way of life, I got into the British way of life.

"That is what I ask everyone else to do - respect the country where you are working and living."

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