A takeaway boss is hot under the collar after his business was the subject of online abuse.
Angry Facebook and Twitter comments were aimed at Chillies takeaway in Blackpool Road, Ribbleton, Preston, after claims its Asian staff had refused to serve a customer wearing a poppy.
But manager Sajid Bhad has vehemently denied the claims, saying he only refused to serve a teenager because he was part of a trouble-causing gang.
The online backlash against the takeaway began last week, with Facebook users and others on Twitter began repeating what they had heard.
The abuse got so bad that police visited Mr Bhad on Thursday and told him that there had been a number of derogatory comments about his business.
Mr Bhad said : “I have no idea how this started. I have been wearing a poppy myself . Whatever has happened it is nothing to do with wearing a poppy or not.”
The furore is believed to have begun when a Preston mum was told by her 16-year-old son that he and another had been refused service in the takeaway - when another pal who was not wearing a poppy was served without any problem.
She went in to talk to Chillies and said she did not believe the owner’s claims that her son had been barred for being part of a gang. She said her son told her that when he had asked why he was barred, a member of staff glanced at his poppy.
But Mr Bhad said the teenager he refused to serve was part of a group of youngsters who harassed a delivery driver in Moor Nook the previous night. He said the incident had been reported to the police.
Mr Bhad said: “We are a family business - I have been here for nine years. I don’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t know anything about this until the police came to see me. I don’t know why people want to make this kind of story up.”
Coun Keith Martin of South Ribble Council was monitoring Facebook when he saw the thread suddenly appear.
He said: “It spread like wildfire. I have never seen anything take off like this. Within a few minutes there were comments coming from all over the place - it quickly degenerated into outright racism.”
The thread was swiftly taken down after complaints were made to Facebook administrators.
Coun Martin said: “These kind of comments are unacceptable. People should realise it’s a public forum. It’s disgraceful.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman confirmed officers visited the takeaway to offer safeguarding advice to the owner after a number of threats appeared on social media. They had no log of the delivery driver being harassed.