Posted on April 11, 2023

Pub Landlord at Centre of Golliwogs Row Denies He Is Racist After Facing Social Media Backlash

Vivek Chaudary, Daily Mail, April 11, 2023

A pub landlord at the centre of a row over golliwogs has denied that he is racist after controversial social media posts from him emerged declaring support for ‘White Lives Matter’.

In another post Chris Ryley, 64, wrote: ‘They used to hang them in Mississippi years ago’ alongside a picture of the dolls hanging from his bar.

Mr Ryley faced a huge social media backlash and was accused of being racist after his hard-hitting posts were circulated by critics.

Last week, Mr Ryley and his wife Benice, 62 had six officers enter the pub they run in Grays, Essex and take away 20 golliwogs displayed on a shelf behind the bar after an anonymous complaint was made against them. They also seized an assortment of golliwog badges and magnets that adorned the bar.

In the latest twist to the controversy, historic Facebook posts from Mr Ryley also show him posting: ‘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.’

Others 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.’

He added: ‘I haven’t got a racist bone in my body, anybody who knows me will tell you that. I used to have an Indian business partner and my company trades under the name India Inns. If I was racist, would I do that? I can assure you I’m not racist, I just believe in equality for all races.

‘I have all races and cultures drinking in my pub and I’ve got friends from all kinds of backgrounds. People have looked at my previous posts and taken them out of context. These are uneducated, politically correct people who are just jumping on the bandwagon and want to make a cheap political point at my expense.’

Mr Ryley, who is the licensee of The White Hart pub is due to be questioned by police when he returns from Turkey next month. He is being investigated for a hate crime because of the display of golliwogs in his pub.

He added: ‘I will have a solicitor with me and I’m looking forward to defending my position. The golliwogs are not me being racist, they are a reminder of my childhood. I don’t understand how anybody could be offended by them.’

Mr Ryley admitted that he is not a ‘big fan’ of London mayor Sadiq Khan and that he also believed Kwasi Kwarteng was doing a ‘rotten job.’

He added: ‘I’m not the only one thinking that. Some people claim that because I used a picture of a golliwog alongside a reference to Sadiq Khan, I’m being racist. But that’s ridiculous and it’s their problem, not mine. He’s ruining London and that’s the only point I wanted to make.

‘Kwasi Kwarteng was a terrible chancellor, I think we’d all agree on that. I wasn’t being racist, I just wanted to make it clear that he was doing a rotten job.’

Social media users condemned Mr Ryley’s posts.

One wrote: ‘Wow, I never would have suspected that someone who puts fifteen golliwogs on public display in their pub could possibly be racist.’

Another said: ‘If it looks racist, sounds racist, whines like a racist the chances are they’re a racist.’