A pub landlady today defied authorities and put more of her golliwog collection back on display just days after 20 of them were seized by police as part of an investigation that she and her husband had committed a hate crime.
Benice Ryley proudly placed five of the controversial dolls behind the bar at The White Hart pub in Grays, Essex, which she has run with husband Chris for the past 17 years.
The couple, who are in their 60s, had six officers enter the pub last Tuesday and take away 20 dolls displayed on a shelf behind the bar after an anonymous complaint was made against them.
They also confiscated an assortment of golliwog badges and magnets that adorned the bar.
Today Ms. Ryley revealed that she owns a total of 30 golliwogs collection.
Chris Ryley runs the White Hart in Grays, Essex with his wife Benice
Mrs Ryley put up a sign at the entrance to the pub to warn customers that golliwogs can be seen inside. The sign states, “We have golly dolls displayed inside our shelves. If you feel offended. Please don’t come in’
Ms Ryley was questioned by officers after police received an anonymous complaint about the golliwog display at The White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex
Placing some on a shelf, she told MailOnline, “It’s all ridiculous. It’s political correctness gone wrong. I don’t let the authorities intimidate me and proudly put my other golli’s back in the pub.
“I’m still shocked that six cops came to my pub last week, surrounded me and took away my collection of golliwogs. I have committed no crime and do not intend to offend anyone. These golli’s are part of the pub, the customers love them and they remind us of our childhood.’
Mrs Ryley also posted a sign at the entrance to the pub warning customers that golliwogs can be seen inside and that they should not enter if it would offend them. The sign states, “We have golly dolls displayed inside our shelves. If you feel offended. Please don’t go in.’
She added: ‘The police have taken 20 of my golli dolls, but I have many more upstairs. If people don’t like them and feel offended by seeing them, they don’t have to come to my pub. It’s that simple. I’m not going to give in to this crazy political correctness. We have customers in this pub of all different races and none of them have ever complained about seeing my golli’s. Why did the police get involved in this?’
The White Hart pub is on the edge of a council estate in Grays, which is notorious for crime and drug trafficking.
Mrs Ryley and other regulars were furious that the police are rarely present when called for ‘real’ crimes and denounced the presence of six police officers who removed the golliwogs from the pub.
Two others waited outside while their colleagues packed the dolls into plastic bags to take them away.
Her husband was in Turkey at the time and the police informed her that they want to question him for a “hate crime” when he returns, as he is the permit holder.
A cop puts the golliwog dolls in a clear evidence bag
CCTV footage shows some officers walking into the pub before confiscating the dolls
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is said to have been furious at the approach and has told Essex Police that bosses should focus on catching real criminals rather than confiscating toys.
History of the golliwog doll: how the obsolete childhood toy became a symbol of bitter controversy
The question of whether the dolls are racist or not often leads to fierce discussions.
The golliwog was created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895 in her book ‘The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog’ where it was described as ‘a horror sight, the blackest gnome’.
After the author created the golliwog, it became a collector’s favorite and was popular in the UK as the mascot of Robertson’s jam.
But by the 1980s, it was increasingly seen as an offensive racist caricature of black people.
Some people hark back to fond childhood memories of the dolls, while others argue that golliwogs are a racist icon of a bygone era.
Marmalade firm Robertson’s removed its iconic golliwog logo from its canning jars in 2002 following complaints from campaigners.
In a YouGov poll last year, 53 percent of respondents said they thought selling or displaying golliwogs was “acceptable,” compared to 27 percent who did not.
When asked if it was racist to sell or display a golliwog doll, 63 percent of respondents said no, while 17 percent thought it was.
Mrs. Ryley said, ‘I’m sure the police have better things to do. If they arrest my Chris when he comes back, I promise the world will know.
“I completely agree with the Home Secretary. The police should focus on real crime and not worry about the dolls people are displaying.”
Pub regular Sue Payne, 57, said: ‘It’s absolutely stupid and a complete waste of police time and money. You can get stabbed or robbed around here and the cops don’t come, or if they do, it takes ages. But someone complains about some dolls and six cops show up. You couldn’t make it up.’
Gary Symes, 61, another pub host, said: ‘The way the police have been so heavy-handed is childish and pathetic. The golli’s been there for years, why did it take six old bills to solve this case when we have so much crime here?
‘Black people also drink in this pub and have never had a problem with the golliwogs. It’s outrageous that the police waste their time on this kind of nonsense.’
Ms Ryley revealed that she started displaying the dolls shortly after she and her husband took over 17 years ago.
She said: ‘I’ve been eating golliwogs since I was a kid and so have many of my clients. One day we started talking about how much we missed them, so I thought it would be fun to put them on display.
‘I have received some dolls from customers and they always put a smile on our faces. They are part of our heritage.’
The landlady claimed the complaint was made by a customer who entered the pub three weeks ago and asked her to remove the golliwogs as he found them offensive.
She said: ‘None of the regulars had ever seen him before, he’s not from the area and doesn’t even drink in this pub. He walked in, took some pictures, complained, then left.”
Ms Ryley said she was waiting to hear from police when the confiscated dolls will be returned to her.
She said, ‘I just want them back because they are very precious to me and some of them are worth a lot of money. But the police have told me they’re part of a hate crime investigation, which is ridiculous, because I don’t mean to offend anyone.”
A Home Office source said: ‘The Home Secretary’s views have now been made very clear to Essex Police, so they are under no illusions.
“The police shouldn’t get involved in this kind of nonsense. It’s about tackling anti-social behaviour, stopping violence against women and girls, attending burglaries and catching criminals – not confiscating dolls.’
Chris Ryley, left, who is currently overseas, had their collection of 15 dolls on display after receiving them as gifts from customers over the years
The couple has been running the White Hart Inn for the past 17 years after taking over the boozer
The now-controversial golliwog figure was created by American-British cartoonist and author Florence Kate Upton and appeared in children’s books in the 19th century.
The physical dolls became popular in Britain in the 1970s, but were considered a racist caricature of black people.
The first known example of the dolls being seized by British police was in 2007, when Greater Manchester Police seized two of them from a furniture shop near Wigan, Greater Manchester.
CCTV footage from last week’s incident shows the officers marching into the pub and putting the dolls in a bag of evidence.
Essex Police said: ‘We are investigating a hate crime allegation that was reported to us on 24 February. On Tuesday, April 4, agents seized several items in connection with that investigation.
“The investigation is ongoing, so we will not be commenting further at this stage.
“The police are proud of the work we do to prevent crime, apprehend offenders and build trust in all communities.”