A HAIRDRESSER behind plans for an annual gay pride march has been convicted of racially abusing an Asian shopworker.

Paul Freely told Farzana Hussain, who was born in Blackburn, that we do things differently in this country' after he discovered he had been overcharged for £6.99 hair dye.

After the case, his victim called him a hypocrite.

Miss Hussain, 23, said: "As a leading member of the gay community in Hyndburn he should be more tolerant.

"He has spoken about Accrington pride, but does that not include the Asian community?

"Is he the right person to be organising an event to promote Hyndburn?"

Freely, 40, told Hyndburn magistrates he was the subject of homophobia at Sally's Hair and Beauty when he was not given his normal trade discount in January last year. It would have saved him £2.

Magistrates were told that Freely ranted at the shopworker, banging his fists on the counter of the shop, in Broadway, Accrington.

The hairdresser, who owns Paul Freely Euro Hair and Beauty, Cross Street, Accrington, denied a racially- aggravated public order offence, but was found guilty after a day-long trial. He was fined £100, with £400 costs and £100 compensation.

Miss Hussain said: "I have never encountered any problems with him before. I have even had my hair cut by him.

"On that day I had accidentally charged a colleague of his full price for a colour.

"I knew I had made a mistake and I was going to call him to apologise, but just ten minutes later Paul came back into the shop. I could see that he was angry.

"Then he told me we don't do it like that in this country, go back to where you have come from. I have been in this country since before you were born'."

Miss Hussain now manages the store. Freely, of Manchester, told the court: "I felt I had to rectify the situation after we had been overcharged.

"When I got to Sally's I found the way they spoke to me disrespectful, they were saying get back to Manchester, which I found threatening."

Replying to allegations that he racially abused Miss Hussain, Freely said: "It is not within my dialogue as a Christian man to use words like that.

"I totally disagree that I said those comments. I remained calm and asked for my money back."

After the case, he said he would consider an appeal.