Posted on April 10, 2023

Police Officers Raid a Pub and Seize 15 Golliwog Dolls After Customer Made Hate Crime Complaint

Rory Tingle, Daily Mail, April 7, 2023

This is the bizarre moment police stormed a couple’s pub and seized their golliwog dolls – saying the toys were a suspected ‘hate crime’.

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

She and husband Chris, 64, who is currently abroad, had displayed their collection of 15 dolls after receiving them as gifts from customers over the years.

On Tuesday, Essex Police raided the pub and confiscated the dolls, saying they were investigating a ‘hate crime’. They also took a book about the history of golliwogs.

CCTV shows six officers walk into the bar and question Mrs Ryley at a table. One inspects the bar before taking the dolls and putting them in an evidence bag.

Speaking to Thurrock Nub News, Mrs Ryley said: ‘Apparently a visitor to the pub had been quite upset about them and made a complaint.

‘Chris is away abroad and will be until the middle of May.

‘Police said as he is the licensee they need to interview him and they have taken the dolls away in the interim.’

The couple have run the White Hart Inn for the past 17 years after taking over when the boozer had become run down.

The raid comes after the couple refused to remove the black-faced dolls after the local authority received a complaint in 2018.

Thurrock Council launched an investigation after a whistleblower claimed the golliwogs were offensive and represent a racially aggravated crime.

But Mr Ryley said the dolls were ‘here to stay’ and his no nonsense approach paid off after the council confirmed no further action will be taken.

Mrs Ryley said today: ‘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?’

Branding the incident a ‘waste of taxpayers’ money’, she continued: ‘When the police officers came, I pointed to the dolls and said they haven’t done anything.

‘The gollies all went quietly – none of them resisted arrest at all. 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.’

Mrs Ryley is demanding the dolls are immediately returned and has vowed to put them back behind the bar.

She fumed: ‘It is unreal – we haven’t broken the law and there is no legal stuff that says I can’t display them. It’s just silly.’

A spokesman for Essex Police said: ‘We are investigating an allegation of hate crime in Grays reported to us on 24 February.

‘On Tuesday, 4 April, we attended a location off Argent Street, Grays, and seized several items in connection with our investigation.’