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Tourism agency VisitScotland has suspended the five-star status of Marcliffe Hotel following the owner’s homophobic comments at an industry dinner.

Hotel owner Stewart Spence used a derogatory term about homosexuals working at the Aberdeen based hotel while speaking at a Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland event last week.

During his speech he said he was “lucky” never to have hired a gay employee.

Now VisitScotland, which gives Scottish hotels their star ratings, has removed the Marcliffe from its website until the hotel provides written evidence that it does not discriminate.

The tourism agency said all members of the Quality Assurance (QA) scheme had a duty to comply with equality legislation.

A spokeswoman for agency said: “VisitScotland is currently looking into this matter as a priority and in the meantime, we have suspended the Marcliffe’s QA membership and the hotel’s entry on

“We have advised the hotel that their membership of QA and listing on the website is suspended until such time as we have received written evidence that they do not operate a discriminatory policy with staff and customers and that they both fully understand and meet, in full, the requirements of appropriate legislation.

“We have also advised them of training and support available through organisations such as Stonewall.

“Only on receipt of the written evidence requested will their QA membership and entry be reinstated.”

Mr Spence later said in a statement: “I made some very ill-advised comments at the dinner and I am absolutely mortified.

“I would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

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