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04th May 2023

Pub which refused to remove racist dolls is forced to close

Steve Hopkins

‘The young people these days don’t understand, from years ago where did the Gollys originate from, it’s such a shame’

An Essex pub that caused national outrage after displaying golli*** dolls has been forced to close after being boycotted by some of its supplies.

According to reports, Heineken and Carlsberg asked the owners of The White Hart Inn in Grays to stop serving their beer and a maintenance firm also refused to work on-site. The pub had earlier been removed from the CAMRA good pubs guide after Essex Police raided the premises and seized the dolls. It is now subject to an alleged hate crime investigation.

The pub’s landlord, Benice Ryley, claimed to have collected the dolls since childhood, with the pub displaying 15 of them, having received many “as gifts”. The police raid came after the couple refused to remove the dolls after the local authority received a complaint.

Ryley told the Thurrock Nub News on Tuesday that she and her husband, Chris Ryley, closed the pub, which they have run for almost 20 years, for good on 2 May.

They now plan to retire to Turkey.

Ryley said she felt, “Gutted, totally and utterly gutted. Hurt, upset.”

She said she didn’t “understand” the “few bits of hate” she had received since the story broke.

“The young people these days don’t understand, from years ago where did the Gollys originate from, it’s such a shame.”

Ryley said the pub could not recover from the “stigma” the raid has caused.

As part of its investigation, Essex Police are reportedly looking at Facebook posts by Ryley’s husband in which he compared the dolls to lynchings in Mississippi and expressed backing for far-right groups. His Facebook account has since been deleted.

Chris Ryley is due to be interviewed by police later this month when he returns from Turkey, where the family have a holiday home, The Guardian reported.

Benice Ryley said Heineken and Carlsberg had refused to work with the pub, as “they don’t want their name associated with the pub because of the stigma”, as had Innserve, who had maintained its pumps.

She blamed Essex Police for the controversy, saying they had chosen to take action after not doing so following a similar complaint in 2018.

“I’m angry … because if the police left it alone like they left it alone in 2018, we wouldn’t be in this situation now. And we probably would have plodded on with the pub,” Ryley said.

The Guardian noted that when it visited the pub last month a notice behind the pub blamed the police raid on “snowflake complaints”.

The pub has also been vandalised since the original story broke.

In her interview, Ryley reiterated that she was racist and claimed that younger generations did not understand golly dolls, saying: “If people think that golly dolls looks like them, they’re the ones who’s got a problem.”

She added: “I am upset that my gollies were taken. They were doing no harm. If people don’t like it, they didn’t have to come through my door.”

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