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Pub Landlord Told Dolls Can Stay Despite Complaint About Them Being 'Racist'

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Pub Landlord Told Dolls Can Stay Despite Complaint About Them Being 'Racist'

A pub landlord, who found himself involved in a race row after displaying a bunch of golliwog dolls behind the bar, has been told he is able to keep them.

Chris Ryley and his wife Bernice, who run the the White Hart in Grays, Essex, said they were shocked when someone lodged an anonymous complaint about them to their local council.

Officials at Thurrock Council launched an investigation after the complainant claimed that the dolls were 'offensive and represent a racially aggravated crime', the MailOnline reports.

Credit: East News Press Agency
Credit: East News Press Agency
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However, Ryley said the dolls were 'here to stay' and now, the council has sided with him, saying that no further action will be taken.

In a statement, it said: "Following the investigation, this issue is not a matter for the council under the Licensing Act 2003 or Public Order legislation."

Fifty-nine-year-old Ryley said: "I would like to thank the council for their time and the eventual realisation that we do not mean anything racial.

"I would also like to thank people, both locally, nationally and abroad, who contacted us and gave their support."

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The couple has around 15 golliwogs in full view behind the bar, putting the first one their three years ago.

When the investigation was first launched, Ryley said: "The head of licensing at the council phoned to tell me a complaint had been made and said the same person had also gone to the police.

Credit: East News Press Agency
Credit: East News Press Agency

"He asked me 'would I consider taking them down'? I was shocked - I told the council I would think about it but I cannot see how I have committed an offence so they are here to stay.

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"Since we have had them up behind the bar in the past three years, there has only ever been two complaints.

"One was from a Canadian lady who said, 'those would not be allowed back in my country,' and another was from an English woman who insisted they were racist, despite no-one else in the pub agreeing with her, including a black man who was drinking in here at the time.

"It's all about political correctness isn't it? Children can't play conkers anymore or have snowball fights in case they are hurt.

Credit: East News Press Agency
Credit: East News Press Agency
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"The council has enough things to be getting on with, rather than worrying about this. The golliwogs are staying up. No-one has said anything to us and my message would be 'go somewhere else to drink if you don't like it - nobody is forcing you to come here'.

"If the customers start complaining, that would change my mind but it is our customers who brought most of them here for us as presents."

The couple believe the complaint may have been made by a worker from the local council office, which is situated near the pub, who may have popped in on their lunch.

The 'golliwogg' character was originally created by the illustrator Florence Kate Upton in the late 1800s, before being commercially reproduced as soft toys in the 1970s. But by the 1980s they were increasingly seen as a racist caricature of black people. However, others say they are harmless toys which remind them of their childhood.

Featured Image Credit: East News Press Agency

Topics: UK News, Essex, News

Claire Reid
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