Claridges protest
Members of the Free to Feed group, staged a 'nurse-in' to protest after a breast-feeding mother was asked to cover up.

A group of mother's have staged a protest outside Claridge's hotel in Mayfair after a woman was told to cover up when breastfeeding her child.

Louise Burns, 35, was asked to cover her baby's head with a napkin as she fed him in order to avoid offending other customers in the restaurant.

The mother of three said she was "shocked and appalled" after the objection to her feeding her child at the five star hotel.

Claridge's reportedly responded to the complaint saying it "embraced" breastfeeding but "urged mothers to be discreet."

The 2010 Equality Act makes it unlawful for a business to discriminate against a breastfeeding woman.

Their comments prompted women from the campaign group Free to Feed, to organise "a nurse-in" in protest, and to demand the hotel to change its policy.

40 breast feeding mothers gathered at the luxury Mayfair hotel at 14:00 GMT.

Emiily Slough, 28, who founded Free to Feed after she was labelled a "tramp" on Facebook for breastfeeding in public, said: "I am here because someone broke the law by telling a woman to be unnecessarily discreet when she was breastfeeding in public. We are here to show Claridge's they are not above the law. But they have said nothing to us, they are pretending we're not here."

Emma Bullock, 25, who helped organise the protest, said: "Breastfeeding is normal and natural. I might not like it if someone chews with their mouth open, but I won't object.

"The thing is, Lou Burns was being discreet and then they put that huge tent over her to cover her up, which made it very obvious.

"We want Claridge's to issue an apology and change their policy on breastfeeding, but they have done nothing yet."

Katie Pirson, who took part in the protest, said: "I believe my baby has the right to be fed whenever he's hungry.

"I think in 2014 we shouldn't have to worry about how babies are fed, just that they are fed."

The demonstrators have their critics too. Lindsay Jardine, 35, defended Claridge's had been perfectly right to tell Mrs Burns to cover up.

"If I was eating there I wouldn't want to see someone feeding their baby in front of me. And it's cruel for the babies, being out in such weather," she said.

The incident sparked a huge debate about whether it is acceptable to breastfeed in public, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage among the political figures who waded in.

He caused a further outcry when he suggested on his LBC phone-in show that mothers could "sit in the corner" in restaurants to avoid upsetting people.

In a later statement, Mr Farage accused the media of misinterpreting him.

He said: "Let me get this clear, as I said on the radio and as I repeat now, I personally have no problem with mother's breastfeeding wherever they want."

A Downing Street spokeswoman said David Cameron "shares the view of the NHS, which is that breastfeeding is completely natural and it's totally unacceptable for any women to be made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding in public".

Claridge's has not yet commented on the protest.