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11th Sep 2023

Police boss has ‘no regrets’ after officers investigated pub landlords who displayed golly dolls

Steve Hopkins

‘I make no apologies for doing that’

A police chief has said he has no regrets after his officers raided an Essex pub when someone complained it was displaying golly wog dolls bars behind the bar.

Earlier this year six officers visited the White Hart Inn in Grays which has since shut down and removed the dolls.

Last week the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced no further action would be taken after the landlords were investigated for a suspected hate crime.

However, chief Constable BJ Harrington said he would “make no apologies” for the investigation.

Speaking to BBC Essex, he said: “Did we overreact? No.

“If someone makes an allegation of a crime, it’s our job to proportionally investigate that, to gather the evidence and to make sure, if it meets the threshold, to put it to the Crown Prosecution Service who then make an assessment. Firstly about the evidence and about the public interest.

“That’s what we did in this case. I make no apologies for doing that.”

The force said a member of the public reported on February 24 that the items displayed at Benice and Chris Ryley’s pub “caused them alarm and distress”.

The police seized the dolls from behind the bar on 4 April and the Campaign for Real Ale removed the pub from its Good Beer Guide the following week.

Landlord Mrs Ryley said she had displayed the collection, donated by her late aunt and customers, for nearly 10 years.

The building was later vandalised on April 16 prompting a separate police investigation.

Ryley closed the pub on 1 May, citing a boycott by brewing companies and the maintenance firm Innserve.

Constable Harrington’s comments come five months after home secretary Suella Braverman slammed police for sending six officers to seize the dolls from pub – suggesting it was an over reaction.

Essex Police said it investigated under section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 – causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress – and section 31 the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 – a racially or religiously aggravated public order offence.

The Ryleys were leaseholders of the pub and the building owner, Admiral Taverns, said in May it planned to reopen the venue under new management.

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