CAMRA slammed for response on offensive dolls

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Row over offensive dolls: CAMRA caught up in Twitter storm
Row over offensive dolls: CAMRA caught up in Twitter storm

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The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has condemned a pub’s decision to display golliwog dolls but its response has come under fire as not going far enough to stamp out racism.

A collection of golliwog dolls on display at the White Hart Inn, Grays, Essex, was confiscated by police last week (4 April), and the pub’s licensee has been criticised for planning to replace them.

Essex Police is currently investigating a hate crime after a member of the public reported being racially distressed after attending the pub on 24 February.

The pub has previously won the South West Essex CAMRA Pub of the Year Award in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020 according to its website, and has been celebrated in the organisation’s Good Beer Guide​.

Offensive items

CAMRA has been criticised for its write-up of the pub on, which described an “extensive collection of old-fashioned soft toys” displayed on a back bench of the inn.

However, it has since deleted this statement after recognising it as “problematic” because it made light of the offensive nature of the materials displayed at the White Hart. Instead, a disclaimer has been added to the description: “Note this pub has chosen to display items that are considered by many to be offensive”.

The organisation released a statement on Twitter condemning the display of offensive material, stating pubs should be “welcoming and inclusive places”.

The move was celebrated by some as taking a strong stance against the situation, and enacting a "right and reasonable" outcome.

"This is a sensible decision," wrote one user. "Great news," another added.

However, some Twitter users believe CAMRA’s actions have not gone far enough, with some going as far as calling the response “embarrassing” and “pretty outright disgusting”.

Users called for CAMRA to wipe the pub completely from its Good Beer Guide​ and have questioned why it has been awarded on multiple occasions despite the dolls being on display for years.

Others have asked why CAMRA is only reprimanding the branch now, despite claims of the pub’s racism dating back to 2018, where a similar debate erupted over the pub’s golliwog dolls.

Removal from guide

In response, CAMRA chief executive Tom Stainer assured the pub would be removed from Good Beer Guide​ listings and would not be submitted for future inclusion in the handbook while the discriminatory materials remained on display. He added discussions of further action were ongoing.

Stainer said: "We appreciate many on social media may want instant responses to issues but as an organisation run by volunteers – who give up their evenings and weekends alongside their day jobs – it can sometimes take time to get people together to discuss and make decisions about issues such as this. We acted quickly to amend the pub listing while we continued to have discussions about further action.

"CAMRA has hundreds of branches making potentially thousands of awards each year, and we rely on branches to ensure the awards they make and the submissions they make to the Good Beer Guide are in keeping with our policies and values. 

“We are currently discussing with the branch why, despite issues with this pub being raised, and CAMRA policy explicitly stating pubs displaying discriminatory material should not be considered for awards or inclusion in the Good Beer Guide​ from 2018, it continued to make awards and include the White Hart in its Good Beer Guide​ submissions after this date.

“We also appreciate the nature of social media means while some people have welcomed the action CAMRA has taken so far, there are others who would like us to go further and we can only urge people to give us a little time for our volunteer leadership to decide the best way to deal with this issue before rushing to judgement.”

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