Golli*** pub at centre of racism row vandalised after dolls seized by police

Police are still investigating over an allegationn of hate crime at the White Hart Inn in Gray’s, Essex

Thomas Kingsley
Tuesday 18 April 2023 08:13 BST
Moment police enter pub and seize dolls after a hate crime complaint

An Essex pub that displayed racist golly dolls has been vandalised with windows damaged and paint daubed on the door.

Police said they would now conduct extra patrols in the area after the incident at the White Hart Inn in Gray’s at 12.40am on Sunday.

The incident comes after officers seized a collection of dolls from the pub on 4 April. The dolls, which are based on 18th century minstrels are now regarded as racist caricatures, are now part of an investigation into an alleged hate crime.

The pub landlords were reported in 2018 over the dolls

The raid caught the attention of home secretary Suella Braverman, who criticised Essex Police for how it has handled the matter.

On the recent vandalism, Essex Police district commander Tony Atkin said: “Inquiries are taking place to establish what happened in the lead up to this incident and to identify those responsible, and includes viewing CCTV footage.

“One line of inquiry is that the criminal damage is linked to a previous incident that we are currently investigating, also linked to the White Hart Inn,” he continued.

“We continue to investigate that incident and would ask the public to allow us to do so, remaining calm.”

No arrests have been made in connection to the alleged hate crime but police previously confirmed they are also investigating social media posts that appeared on the landlord’s Facebook profile.

Christopher Ryley allegedly shared a number posts on his Facebook expressing racist and far-right views, including a comment where he apparently joked about Mississippi lynchings.

In a March 2016 Facebook post still online, Mr Ryley uploaded a picture of golli***s hanging from his bar with the comment “We have our golli***s, yaay.” Commenting on the post his wife, Benice Ryley, asked: “Are you sure this is legal. lol.”

The pub was vandalised over the weekend

The landlord replied: “They used to hang them in Mississippi years ago.”

Months before, Mr Ryley had allegedly shared several propaganda images created by the white nationalist Generation Identity group, which inspired the 2019 New Zealand mosque shooter.

“It’s time to rise up,” a Generation Identity poster reading: “Keep calm and defend your country” was captioned.

Chris and Benice Ryley were reported for the dolls in 2018

Benice Ryley, Chris’s wife, hit back at allegations of racism, saying the pub frequently hosts Indian weddings, and said she does not understand how people could be offended by the dolls.

When asked about her husband being photographed in a T-shirt from the far-right group Britain First, Ms Ryley said: “I don’t think Chris is a supporter of Britain First, he was just wearing that shirt because it was convenient at the time.”

The pub has been banned from being considered for any awards by the Campaign for Real Ales (Camra) and the group said it would not be included in its Good Beer Guide "while these discriminatory dolls continue to be on display".

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