A Selfridges worker who argued with EDL leader Tommy Robinson has claimed that the rightwinger and his friend were abusing him in the upmarket store before he refused to serve them.

The man, who has not been identified, was suspended by Selfridges management after he allegedly refused to serve the English Defence League leader's friend because he was with Robinson. The shopworker denied the claim.

According to his union, the pair's rude behaviour towards him was the real reason he refused to help them.

The union version of events contradicts both Robinson's and Selfridges' accounts of the incident. Robinson, who recorded the incident on video, claimed that the shop assistant refused to serve his friend because he was leader of the EDL. Apologising to Robinson and his companion afterwards, the department store said it was not company policy to refuse to serve anybody because of their political opinions.

But the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) said its member acted because he was abused. It denied that he swore at the pair as Robinson had claimed.

A spokesman told IBTimes UK: "Our member strongly maintains that he only refused to serve because of the abuse being directed at him by the customer and he did not swear in the exchange."

Writing on Twitter, Robinson said: "A Muslim in Selfridges told my mate to f**k off and refused to serve him simply because he was with me."

The retail assistant was suspended while Selfridges carried out an investigation, not because he had allegedly breached work rules, claimed Usdaw. The suspension has been lifted.

A spokesman said: "The shopworker concerned is an Usdaw member and we are providing support and representation. We welcome Selfridges' decision to lift the suspension and we will continue to support our member on his return to work."