Marks & Spencer faces a mass customer boycott after it was revealed the retailer allows shop assistants the right to refuse to sell alcohol and pork products.

Following a number of furious customers reporting that they tried to buy pork or alcohol from a Muslim shop assistant in central London, only to be told that they would have to use another till because of the cashier's religion, a Facebook campaign has called for the boycott of the British brand while the official M&S Facebook page was hit by angry messages from previously loyal customers.

M&S released a statement saying:

"Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our member of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods."

"We regret that in the case highlighted today we were not following our own internal policy."

The spokesman said the policy applied throughout its 700-plus stores and to other religions as well. Christians who did not want to work on Sundays and religious Jews who chose not to work on Saturdays would also be excused.

However, a new campaign group called Boycott Marks and Spencer has several messages that accuse the retailer of creating "division and hatred within our communities".

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner