Virgin Trains have tonight apologised to Peterborough Olympic gymnast Louis Smith and launched an investigation after a member of staff challenged him and a fellow black passenger over their First Class seats.
Louis Smith, a five time Olympic medallist with Team GB and five time World Championship medallist, was travelling on a Virgin Trains East Coast service today, Thursday June 7, when a member of staff asked him to prove he had a First Class ticket.
Mr Smith said the member of staff went on to challenge a fellow black passenger but did not ask the same question of the other white passengers in the carriage.
In a series of tweets the pommel horse champion said: "Well this train journey certainly got a lot more interesting and political!!!
"The man serving tea and coffee is working his way down the 1st CLASS carriage when he serves the man next to me randomly asks for his ticket to prove he’s in 1st class then he serves the lady behind me to where he goes back to just serving teas and coffee.
"When he gets to me he asks if I want any I decline he then asks if I have a 1st class ticket I said yes!! He said can I see it I said yes but don’t you believe me. I show him he accepts it and carries on serving.
"The next 3-4 people he serves tea and coffee to and I or the gentleman next to me to notice he doesn’t ask anyone else if there supposed to be in 1st class or to show proof of ticket. Well the gentleman kindly asks why that is and the waiter says 'it’s my choice who I ask'.
"Well the quite upset and understandably intrigued gentleman asks why he’s only asked the only 2 black passengers if they are meant to be in first class and to prove it.. yikes!! This escalated quickly .. is it just a coincidence or not, what do you think!?"
Mr Smith followed up a short time later saying: "So the gentleman just went and spoke to the train manager aboard this @Virgin_TrainsEC and the manager said it’s was wrong and apologised for the man's behaviour and to Tweet and complain, the waiter isn’t allowed to check tickets anyway but can ask if your seated in 1st class!!"
Virgin Trains East Coast has this evening said: "Please accept my sincerest apologies for this. I have spoken to the Train Manager on this service at length about what has happened and there will be a complaint logged and investigated."