Pub at centre of golliwog row has windows and door smashed by vandals

Pub at centre of golliwog race row has windows and door smashed by vandals: Police launch investigation

  • The White Hart Inn in Essex has been vandalised following furore over golliwogs 
  • Hundreds of pounds worth of damage caused and police are investigating  
  • Read more: Moment six police officers raid a pub and seize 15 golliwog dolls 

The pub at the centre of an online furore over controversial golliwog dolls was graffitied with offensive slogans in an act of vandalism that left five windows smashed.   

The White Hart Inn in Gray’s, Essex, was vandalised at about 12.40am on Sunday and Essex police say they are conducting extra patrols in the area.

The pub was raided by police on April 4 over the collection of 30 dolls, which had been exhibited there for more than a decade, and landlady Bernice Ryley, 61 was questioned after an allegation was made of a hate crime.  

Pub landlord Chris Ryley, 64, vehemently defended the display of the dolls, which are now considered a racist caricature by many, was found to have made a number of racist Facebook posts and faced backlash on social media.

Suella Braverman scolded Essex Police for sending five police officers to the family-run pub, saying forces should not be ‘getting involved in this kind of nonsense’. 

Five windows were smashed at the pub, which was opened as normal on Sunday, despite the hundreds of pounds worth of damage 

The White Hart Inn in Gray’s, Essex, was vandalised at about 12.40am on Sunday and Essex police say they are conducting extra patrols in the area (landlady Bernice Ryley with the dolls)

The pub was graffitied with offensive slogans on Saturday night and five windows were smashed, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage. 

A member of the staff said on Sunday: ‘It happened at about a quarter to one in the morning and was caught on camera. Three people in masks and wearing dark clothing and white shoes ran up to the pub and smashed windows and sprayed the word ‘Racists’ on the wall.

‘But no-one was hurt and the pub has been open as usual today. Customers have backed us and are very angry about what happened – it was very cowardly thing to do and someone might have been hurt.’

Police are investigating the vandalism and said it could be linked to a previous criminal incident at the pub. 

Read more: Landlord at the centre of golliwogs row ‘will have ”racist” Facebook posts probed by police’ – as CAMRA ban his pub from receiving awards or inclusion in their Good Beer Guide 

Essex Police district commander Tony Atkin said: ‘Inquiries 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 inquiry 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.’

The pub first made headlines after it was reported by MailOnline that Home Secretary Suella Braverman said Essex Police ‘should not be getting involved in this kind of nonsense’ and instead focus on ‘catching criminals’.

The White Hart Inn was recently banned from being considered for any awards by the Campaign for Real Ales (Camra) and the group said it would not be included in its Good Beer Guide ‘while these discriminatory dolls continue to be on display’.

And pub landlord Mr Ryley, who spends most of his time in Turkey, came in for criticism online after posts emerged in which he made what many have said are racist remarks. 

He posted: ‘Black Chancellors matter’ in October 2022 in a reference to former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng.

In another from June 2020, a golliwog is pictured with the caption ‘Sadiq’s new ideas.’

 The couple have run the White Hart Inn for the past 17 years after taking over when the boozer had become run down. It was sprayed with offensive slogans and five windows were broken on Saturday night 

Landlord Chris Ryley, 64, (left) runs the White Hart in Grays, Essex, along with his wife, Benice, 61 (right)

Other offensive messages include a post asking: ‘When is White History Month please. Anybody know?’ while in another a golliwog is pictured with the caption: ‘Hello Great Britain Am I Allowed Back In?’

Referring to the hard-hitting post from March 2016 of the hanging dolls and his controversial comment, Mr Ryley told MailOnline: ‘It was a tongue in cheek remark, but I was just expressing a historical fact. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone.

‘In the 1800s when slaves used to run away in the deep south of America they either beat them or hanged them. My comment was a reference to that. It was not meant to be detrimental to anybody. I was just repeating something that used to happen, you can’t accuse me of being racist for that.’

Referring to his ‘White Lives Matter’ post from June 2020 he said: ‘Everybody was going on about Black Lives Matter and to be honest, I was getting sick of it. Nobody seemed to care about other lives.

‘I don’t care if you’re black, brown or white because to me, all lives matter. That was the point that I was trying to make. And I would like to know when white history month is because we also have a history to celebrate.’

Benice Ryley, 61, was quizzed by six officers after police received an anonymous complaint about the golliwog display at The White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex

CCTV shows six officers walking into the pub before seizing the dolls. The Home Secretary blasted the police force for getting involved with ‘nonsense’ 

Mrs Ryley previously said she has exhibited the collection of about 30 dolls, donated by her late aunt and customers, in the pub for nearly 10 years.

She said: ‘They’re my childhood history, it’s a part of our inheritance. I can’t see any harm.

‘I really am angry because what they’ve taken away is valuable.’

Mrs Ryley hit back at allegations of racism, saying the pub frequently hosts Indian weddings, and said she does not understand how people could be offended by the dolls.

She added: ‘If they don’t like it, they don’t have to come through the door.’

No arrests have been made in connection to the alleged hate crime, although Essex Police confirmed that they were aware of Mr Ryley’s Facebook posts. 

District Commander 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.’

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