A homeless man has said he was “disgusted” after McDonald’s employees covered his blanket and other belongings in bleach with a mop and bucket.
A video taken on Victoria St, London, on Saturday shows a security guard mopping the floor where a homeless man was sitting, prompting an outcry among onlookers.
Aaron McCarthy, 25, from Limerick, Ireland, has lived in London since he was 10-months-old and has been living in Victoria for the past few years.
McCarthy was sitting outside a Nationwide bank branch when McDonald’s guards asked him to move but after he refused they are said to have become aggressive.
He said: “I told him to calm down and that he was stressing me out and putting me under pressure. I wasn’t causing a nuisance and they told me they wouldn’t bother me if I was sitting there before.”
Moments later one guard emerged from the fast-food restaurant with a mop and bucket and started washing the floor beneath McCarthy.
He added: “I told them I was outside the bank, not McDonald’s and so I had nothing to do with them but then one of them came out with a bucket of water with bleach in it, I could smell it.
“The guy started mopping the floor and kicking my stuff into the water. It was disgusting. I had to leave because it was so stressful, and I hardly slept the entire night because my bedding was all soaked. You can still smell the bleach on my blanket.”
McDonald’s said it was “shocked and saddened” by the footage in which the guard interferes with McCarthy.
In the video, he can be heard saying “leave me alone” while the guard wearing a high visibility jacket kicks his duvet and sleeping bag.
Another guard tries to stop someone filming the incident, and a member of the public is heard calling the situation “bang out of order”.
One man can be heard saying: “That’s wrong, you know that, you’re covering his sleeping bag, what are you doing? You’ve covered his sleeping bag in water and it’s winter. That is outrageous.”
Damon Evans, who tweeted a message to McDonald’s on X, said: “Do you think it is acceptable for your staff to soak the sleeping bags of homeless people in the middle of winter (or any other time of the year)?
“Disgusting behaviour. He wasn’t even outside your premises.”
McDonald’s UK replied on the platform and said: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It is not one of our employees but a third-party security guard.”
The fast food chain later added: “We are shocked and saddened by this incident.
“The third-party security guards involved have been permanently removed from our restaurants and the restaurant team has been reminded of the importance of treating all people with respect, including vulnerable people both in the restaurant and within the wider community.
“We would like to wholeheartedly apologise to the gentleman in the video and will work with the council to locate him and make amends as part of our ongoing work to support homelessness charities in & around the area.”
McCarthy said he is forced to sleep on the streets because the nearby hostels cost between £60-£80 ($123-$164) a night, which he says he cannot afford.
The Met Police said they are aware of the video and inquiries are ongoing.