Police probe ‘racist’ rant from Rochford tattoo parlour workers over halal row

Police investigation – Troy Johnson and Lee Bowling work at a Elite Ink, Rochford

Police investigation – Troy Johnson and Lee Bowling work at a Elite Ink, Rochford

First published in Echo News by

POLICE are investigating alleged racists comments posted on Facebook after the halal meat scandal.

Essex officers are looking into claims two south Essex men, who work at the Elite Ink tattoo parlour in Rochford, made the comments on the Caernarfon Subway sandwich page on Facebook in a debate about the use of halal meat in its products.

The comments were allegedly made by Troy Johnson, co-owner of Elite Ink, and employee Lee Bowling and have since been removed.

They were reported to police by Welsh resident James McGeorge, who accused them of being racist.

A police spokesman said: “We are actively investigating comments allegedly made on Facebook by two local men.

“The investigation will seek to establish if any racially-motivated offences have been committed.

“Officers have been reassuring key members of the Muslim community regarding the action taken. We can confirm that the comments have since been removed from the site.”

In a row with Mr McGeorge, Mr Johnson said he was not racist and “only saying what everybody else is thinking”, while Mr Bowling added that Muslims should return to their own country in an expletive-filled outburst.

Mr Johnson, who co-owns Elite Ink, maintained he was not racist and said Mr McGeorge’s confrontational language had provoked Mr Bowling’ outburst.

He said: “When Lee put that up, I said you’ve got to get that off, but he got angry about the way that man was talking to me.

“When my mum tried to defend me, he started laying into her and calling her an ‘old bag lady’.

“I’m in no way racist – my stepson is mixed race, one of my best friends is Indian and a half- Chinese woman works in my shop. We get people from all walks of life in here and I would never turn anyone away.”

Rafique Ahmed, 73, secretary of Essex Jamme Masjid Mosque, Southend, said: “If someone’s saying ‘get back to your own country’, then it should definitely be investigated. We all have our own opinions, but while I believe in freedom of expression, I draw the line at hatred.”

Westcliff Mosque spokesman Ibrar Azam, 46, added: “Comments similar to this have led to convictions, so the police need to be consistent – it needs to be one rule for everyone.”

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