Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 18:32 UK

Minister slams topless drink ploy

A Newcastle pub has been condemned as "wretched" in Parliament for offering free drinks to women who exposed their breasts to bar staff.

Labour MP Denis MacShane said his daughter, who is a student at Newcastle university, had taken part in a protest at Sinners in the city centre.

Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the pub had behaved irresponsibly.

North Shields-based Ladhar Group, which owns the bar, apologised and said a member of staff had been disciplined.

Mr McShane, who is the MP for Rotherham, said the bar had promoted the degradation of women customers by encouraging them to go topless on one night in March.

We apologise to any customers who saw the notice and were offended
Ladhar Group spokeswoman

Mr Sutcliffe said: "Clearly this is irresponsible advertising. It is not what we want to see, particularly where alcohol is concerned."

He said he would consider strengthening rules to outlaw similar promotions.

Last month women's rights group, Object, also criticised the bar, in the city's Newgate Street, as promoting sexism "which should be stamped out."

A spokeswoman for the Ladhar Group said: "The offensive notice in question was displayed without the knowledge of the directors of Ladhar or senior management at the bar.

"After an investigation a male member of staff was disciplined and given a final written warning.

"We apologise to any customers who saw the notice and were offended."

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: "The licensing authority took this matter very seriously and called the management of Sinners to a meeting. Subsequently the practices ceased."

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The criticism came during an exchange in the House of Commons.



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