JD Wetherspoon (JDW) chairman Tim Martin has claimed that reports that he had urged the Prime Minister to introduce visa scheme for EU workers to help with the current recruitment crisis in the sector are “untrue”.

The Telegraph article, published on 1 June, said Martin had suggested such a scheme would help reduce the pressure on companies and that countries geographically closer to the UK could be given preferential treatment.

However JDW has said the piece mispresented the business’s position. Martin had been asked about reports of staff shortages in the hospitality sector generally and had made enquiries within the company as to what its own pubs were experiencing.

According to Martin, he said that applications had generally been strong for its vacancies, with one new pub opening in North Yorkshire, last week, attracting 160 applications for 70 jobs.

He said JDW was in “a reasonably good position”, and that while recruitment was more challenging in some seaside towns, it was no different to what it experienced in any given year.

JDW has said the remarks about pubs and restaurants shutting sites during the lunchtime trade implied it was a problem for Wetherspoon, which it said it hasn’t been.

Martin commented: “I was trying to be helpful to the journalist by providing up-to-date anecdotal information on staffing, which clearly demonstrated a very positive situation for Wetherspoon.

“However, my comments were misreported. The false story, expressed in the headline ‘Wetherspoons boss calls for more EU migration as bars and restaurants tackle staff shortage’ and expressed or implied elsewhere in the article, was that Wetherspoon was suffering staff shortages, which clearly isn’t true, and that I had subsequently been moved to change my stance on immigration, which, as my evidence to parliament several years ago clearly shows, isn’t true either.”

While Martin said he has had no contact with Boris Johnson since he became Prime Minister, he has previously vocalised his support for an Australian-style immigration point system, with the possibility of preferential visas for countries in close proximity to the UK, as Australia operates with New Zealand, for example.