Friday, 18 Jun 2021

Landlord offers jam sandwich workshops to 'starving, maggot-infested kids'

A pub landlord has come under fire for a ‘joke’ he posted offering ‘starving, maggot-infested, lice-riddled kids’ a spot on a half-term jam sandwich workshop.

Richard Dawson, who owns The Cricketers Arms, in Baildon, West Yorkshire, made the comment amid an ongoing national debate over disadvantaged children being offered free meals during the October school holiday.

The Facebook post, shared at 11.17am on Monday, read: ‘Please feel welcome to bring your starving, maggot-infested, lice-riddled kids to The Cricketers Arms Jam sandwich workshop. In operation throughout half-term.’

But the comment – which has since been deleted – sparked outrage online from hundreds and was slammed as ‘vile’. Mr Dawson commented on the post, defending it as a ‘joke’ and likened himself to comedian Jimmy Carr, saying he ‘gets away’ with saying ‘horrendous things’.

He wrote: ‘I won’t be deleting my post or any of the comments, if people want to buy into the concept that the government needs to be feeding people’s children this half term, that’s their business.

‘My view is that the poor are being stigmatised and their supposed needs been used for political capital.

‘I see people on television making jokes about rape and genocide, if I can’t indulge in humour about non-existent, starving, maggot-infested kids without incurring the wrath of Baildon then so be it.’

Former BBC Look North anchor, Christa Ackroyd, wrote: ‘However you read this it is not funny. It can never be a joke. It is vile. I hope everyone treats you with the same disrespect you have shown to others. I have never seen a post (joke or otherwise) that leaves me as sickened.’

The comment came as restaurants, cafés, pubs, charities and local councils across the country offered free meals to children in poverty this week, after Tory MPs voted down a Labour motion to extend the scheme over the school holidays.

Marcus Rashford’s campaign has gained nationwide support but the Government has refused to U-turn on the decision.

Following the uproar, Mr Dawson’s post was deleted, while his Facebook profile and the pub’s page are no longer appearing on the social media site.

However, some defended his post at an attempt at humour and Mr Dawson said anyone who goes to his pub regularly and knows him would get the joke.

The publican told The Telegraph and Argus: ‘To me, it’s a joke, but you know what people are like.

‘I don’t want to endanger my staff, that’s my main concern, they’ve got no part in those words. You should not have to explain or apologise for humour.

‘There are no maggot-ridden kids out there. People love to be offended these days. I don’t want to dig any deeper on a personal level.’

A spokesperson from the pub told MailOnline on Tuesday: ‘He wasn’t going to delete it yesterday because he wasn’t willing to be bullied into backing down.

‘There’s been a full day of uproar to remove it. People have said what they think of it and Richard wants to draw a line under it.’

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