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17th Apr 2023

Brick thrown through window of pub at centre of golli*** doll controversy

Charlie Herbert

The pub owners have been left shaken by the attack

Police have launched an investigation after a brick was thrown through the window of a pub at the centre of controversy surrounding golli*** dolls.

On April 4, Essex Police confiscated a number of the dolls from the White Hart Inn in Gray’s, Essex, as part of their investigation into a hate crime complaint on February 24.

Landlady Benice Ryley was quizzed by the officers about the collection of dolls that she had received from customers over the years, and had proudly on display in the pub.

The dolls are based on 18th century minstrels and now regarded as racist caricatures of Black people.

Vandals have since attacked the establishment, smashing windows and a door. They then fled the scene before police arrived.

Ryley said she had been left shaken by the incident, which left a number of panes of glass broken.

Essex Police confirmed the damage being linked to the the dolls is ‘one line of enquiry’.

The dolls were on display at the White Horse Inn, Essex, when police confiscated them following an anonymous report of a hate crime (SWNS)

District Commander Tony Atkin said: “We’re conducting high visibility patrols in the area to provide community reassurance to our residents today and for the next few days following criminal damage to the White Hart Inn.

“This continuous police presence will allow the public direct access to officers and to share any information that they might have with the investigative team.

“Enquiries 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 enquiry is that the criminal damage is linked to a previous incident that we are currently investigating, also linked to the White Hart Inn.

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

Atkin added: “When any crime is reported to us, we will treat it as such and robustly investigate, without fear or favour. As with all our investigations, I’d call on our communities to work with us and support us.”

The pub owners, Benice and Chris Ryley, were left shaken by the attack (SWNS)

Anyone with information, CCTV, dash cam or any other footage is being urged to contact police. They can do so by submitting a report online, using the Live Chat service, or calling police on 101.

Last week, the Campaign for Real Ales (Camra) announced the White Horse would no longer be considered for awards or appear in the organisations beer guides following the controversy.

They said: “Following discussions with the branch and our volunteer leadership yesterday evening, the White Hart’s entry in the Good Beer Guide has been deleted and will not be submitted for forthcoming guides while the pub continues to be operated in a way counter to Camra’s values and policies.

“Camra’s What Pub, which is a directory of all pubs, rather than a recommendation of quality, will continue to list the pub, but full details have been removed.

“Discussions are ongoing about local awards which may have been made in contravention of CAMRA policies.”

After the initial police raid at the start of this month, Benice decided to put the dolls back on display, with a sign on the pub door reading: “We have golly dolls displayed inside on our shelves. If you feel offended. Please do not enter.”

She claims the dolls are “nothing but childhood dolls” and that her and her husband Chris are “not racist at all.”

This is not the first time the pub owners have caused controversy with the dolls. In 2018, they refused to remove the black-faced dolls after the local authority received a complaint.

Speaking to Thurrock Nub News, Ryley said: “Apparently a visitor to the pub had been quite upset about them and made a complaint.

“We have the police taking away information that is literally the history of this country. And why?

“We are quite happy to call them dolls, not golli****, but even the officer who wrote down the inventory as he was taking them away described the larger one as a golli*** and the others as golly dolls.

“So even the police don’t know what to call them.

“I understand that some people may not like them and they are entitled to that view, but they don’t have to come into the pub.

“As far as we are aware we are not breaking any laws by displaying them.

“It took six officers to come and remove a shelf full of dollies. What a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“I think the racist people are the ones who complain – it’s their problem, not us.

“I have so many different cultures come in here, we are definitely not racist. We do many Indian weddings, for example.”

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