Regulars try to oust publican after bar ban

HIGHLANDERS in Drumbeg have launched a campaign to oust the village hotelier after he barred them from his pub because, he said, they were 'drunken, troublesome and dishonest'.

People living in the remote Sutherland village claim John Hay insulted them earlier this year when he refused to let them into the only bar for 18 miles. He turned away drinkers and diners and condemned rival hotel owners as 'psychos' which, locals say, gave the community a bad name.

Now villagers have written to members of the local licensing board urging them to 'set aside' their recent ruling that Mr Hay is a 'fit person' to run the hotel. They have demanded a right of reply to the allegations of drunkenness, which he made at a board hearing last month.

Villagers say the problems began soon after Mr Hay moved from Newcastle to Sutherland three years ago. Iain MacAulay, a retired RAF squadron leader who has lived in Drumbeg for 30 years, said: 'He started driving people away. On one occasion when I and some friends called for a drink he spreadeagled himself over the door as if he thought we were going to force our way in and told us to go away. It's outrageous that he has now insulted us. We are a moral community - not lager louts.'

Ron Waud, a retired watchmaker, added: 'When Mr Hay first arrived we knew he was a bit odd. Now we know he is quite potty. We have to do something to make sure we can enjoy a dram and a ceilidh at our local again. Mr Hay should leave the area.'

Yesterday, Mr Hay said he was 'too busy' to discuss his management style.