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11th Apr 2023

Landlady puts racist ‘golli***’ dolls back up after police raid

Charlie Herbert

She’s praised Suella Braverman for her intervention in the matter

A pub landlady has put her collection of ‘golli***’ dolls back on display in her establishment after they were confiscated by local police.

Last week, six officers entered the White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex, after receiving an anonymous complaint about the dolls.

Landlady Benice Ryley was quizzed by the officers about the collection of 15 dolls that she had received from customers over the years.

On April 4, Essex Police confiscated the dolls as part of their investigation into a hate crime complaint on February 24.

The dolls, are based on a Black fictional character that appeared in children’s books in the late 19th century.

They became popular in the 1970s, but are now widely regarded as racist caricatures of Black people.

The dolls were popular in the 1970s but are now widely considered to be racist caricatures of Black people (SWNS)

But police involvement in the issue prompted an angry response from Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who contacted Essex Police to make her views “very plain.”

A Home Office source told Sky News: “The Home Secretary’s views have now been made very plain to Essex Police so they’re under no illusions. Police forces should not be getting involved in this kind of nonsense.

“It’s about tackling anti-social behaviour, stopping violence against women and girls, attending burglaries and catching criminals – not seizing dolls.”

Ryley has now said she is grateful for the Home Secretary’s intervention in the matter, saying that people complaining about the dolls are “silly.”

Benice says she had built up the collection of dolls after customers gifted them over the years (SWNS)

She told the Independent: “She [Braverman] is right, she’s totally right. These are from our past and it’s only the young lads complaining … it’s absolutely silly.”

Ryley has put the ‘golli***’ dolls in her remaining collection back on display but has now placed a sign on the pub door warning potential punters. The sign reads: “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.

Essex Police entered the pub on April 4 to seize some of the dolls (SWNS)

Speaking after the police raid last week, Ryley told Thurrock Nub News: “I don’t understand why we have to go through all this again.

“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 golliwogs, but even the officer who wrote down the inventory as he was taking them away described the larger one as a golliwog 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, and that was proved last time when we were investigated.

“If we were not breaking the law then, why are we breaking the law now?

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

She continued: “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.”

Landlady Benice Ryley says her and her husband Chris are “not racist at all” (SWNS)

In a statement, Essex Police said: “We have regularly discussed the progression of this case with the Crown Prosecution Service and on 4 April, five officers visited a location off Argent Street, Grays, and seized several items in connection with that investigation.

“No one has been arrested or charged in connection with the investigation and our enquiries are ongoing.

“The force is proud of the work we do to prevent crime, tackle offenders and build trust and confidence in all our communities.”

The force went on to deny that it had been contacted directly by the Home Secretary, adding: “We maintain operational independence from the Home Office which ensures that every investigation is carried out without fear or favour.”

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