A pub owned by Sir Ian McKellen is embroiled in a row after allegedly threatening to sack staff too scared to work due to Covid-19.
Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian co-owns The Grapes boozer, along with businessman Evgeny Lebedev and director Sean Mathias.
The 500-year-old East End pub apparently told furloughed staff they had to return to work on Saturday July 4, when bars across Britain reopened post-lockdown.
But Daniel Richardson said he wouldn’t be safe in the “tiny” pub on such a busy day, due to his diabetes making him vulnerable to the killer virus.
The Grapes pub at the centre of the row is owned Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen
The message staff said had been sent by managers at the pub as they reopened again
Pub worker Daniel Richardson cried after receiving the message from his boss after he said he felt he was unable to work during coronavirus because of his diabetes
After raising his concerns with managers, he received a text that made him cry.
The message, which caused a huge backlash after it was posted on Twitter, allegedly said: “It’s come to my attention that some of you don’t want to return or unavailable for up to a month!
“I’m actually really disappointed by your attitudes.
“I will be making changes and letting some of you go.
“The needs of the business comes first.”
Danny said: ” I think firing people willy nilly is pretty terrible.
“It’s ethically troublesome that a collection of millionaires should think someone should risk their health when they have pre-existing conditions on minimum wage.”
Sir Ian McKellen is best known for his role as Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings films
There is no evidence Sir Ian, Mr Lebedev or Mr Mathias knew about the threat to fire Danny, or that he had diabetes.
The text message went viral after it was shared on social media, with one man tweeting: “The f*** is this Gandalf? Sort it out.”
Cassie Smyth added: “If it was a small family business fine, but it’s just a hobby for three incredibly rich people.”
Danny says he got a call on Friday last week and was told the threat didn’t apply to him due to his diabetes.
Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian co-owns The Grapes boozer, along with businessman Evgeny Lebedev and director Sean Mathias
But he suspects he would have been fired if it weren’t for the mass outrage online at his treatment.
NHS research released in May linked two thirds of coronavirus deaths in the UK to diabetes.
Danny, of Poplar, east London, added: “To be blunt I took it really hard. I was honestly in a position where there was not too much I could do.
The pub’s actions attracted Twitter users’ ire, one of which who joked ‘Gandalf must condemn’
“I was like, I’ve lost my job for a serious health condition – how am i going to pay rent?
“I was actually in tears because what the hell am I meant to do about finances, amid everything else.”
But he also criticised the government for putting pressure on pubs to reopen while coronavirus is still present in communities.
On being paid the minimum wage, Danny added: “I think that’s ethically very questionable.
“When I took a job originally I was disappointed in the wage for sure, it was much less than I’d earned in previous, much quieter places, family-run businesses.”
The Grapes was approached for comment but has not returned our calls.