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Indian sues golf club for 'racial' exclusion

Sheila Williams has filed a case against Woodbridge Golf Club for racial discrimination.
PTI | By Nabanita Sircar, London
PUBLISHED ON APR 14, 2004 12:41 PM IST

An Indian origin woman has launched a legal action against her exclusion from membership to a golf club. As a result the Woodbridge Golf Club in Suffolk has called for a special meeting of all its 700 members to decide whether to admit Sheila Williams, wife of a millionaire, who claims that her membership was denied because of "an underlying racial element."

Although the club is not disclosing why the 22-years-old handicap golfer Sheila's membership was rejected but it denies racism. The club has already spent £42,000 fighting her claim while Williams is believed to have also spent the same amount.

Even though the club's officials are confident of winning the case, members have been called to decide whether to admit her or fight her claim in court, or go for arbitration. If defeated the club could face a legal bill of up to £200,000.

Williams approached the club in 2002. She claims her informal inquiries were initially "received with enthusiasm," but her application was eventually turned down based on objections for, she claims, "either nebulous or, in my view, unfair and unfounded reasons".

"It is the combination of these facts that led me to believe that the real reasons behind my rejection may be to do with my race as one of the very few Asians living in this part of Suffolk."

"I'm not trying to accuse anyone of racism, but the coincidence and lack of any other believable explanation do point clearly towards some underlying racial element. I would be happy to be proved wrong about this."

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