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Harold Hill church leaders call for unity to stop increase in hate crime

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 July 2016 | UPDATED: 08:43 15 July 2016

Cllr Roger Ramsey, council leader, and Cllr David Durant

Cllr Roger Ramsey, council leader, and Cllr David Durant

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Church leaders have come together to ask people to help build a “fair and just” society after reports of hate crimes.

Man’s apology for wearing offensive top

A man pictured wearing a T-shirt saying “Yes! We won! Now send them back” at Havering’s Armed Forces Day parade said it was not his intention to cause offence.

Peter Bowman, 54, of Hornchurch, faced widespread criticism after a picture of him in the custom made top was circulated on social media and printed in national and regional newspapers.

Mr Bowman insisted his actions were driven by his passion for Britain and concern about employment, rather than any racist beliefs.

He said: “I worry for my grand kids future. There’s no work.

“They are working for a cheaper rate. I highlighted it but thousands of people are thinking it.”

Mr Bowman added that he doesn’t regret buying the T-shirt but he does regret the offence caused.

“I apologise to them [people who were offended] if I caused such a fuss. It wasn’t my intention to offend. I was just trying to get my point across,” he continues. “My daughter did say ‘don’t do it’, then she said ‘see I told you so’.”

Mr Bowman said he has since had a new T-shirt made which reads “Put Tony on trial”.

He adds his daughter has asked the shop to stop making him T-shirts.

An open letter sent to the residents of Harold Hill from the religious community said an increase in hate crime has left them “deeply saddened”.

The letter read: “We are deeply saddened that in Havering racism is on the rise and is being openly expressed face to face and on social media.

“We recognise as church leaders we still have much to learn about following Jesus in a multicultural and multi-faith community.

“We hope and pray that Harold Hill can be a place where all people can prosper and live together in peace and safety.”

Reverend Richard Shorter of Church 1v23 in Harold Hill, added: “We don’t think there is an easy answer that will solve everything but we just want to try as church leaders to show that we are united and be proactive in encouraging others to be kind to one another.”

At a meeting on Wednesday Havering Council’s leader Cllr Roger Ramsey (Con, Emerson Park) said he was thankful that a number of incidents had been brought to his attention following the EU referendum result.

He said: “We are absolutely against any prejudiced attitudes and Havering has always been a fair and tolerant society.

“Hate crimes have always been taken very seriously and anyone who has been a victim of one should report it to police.”

Later in the meeting Cllr David Durant (Independent Residents Group, Rainham and Wennington) handed in a petition, signed by 22 people, calling on the Recorder to publish an apology for publishing what he claimed was a photoshopped picture of a man at Romford’s Armed Forces Day parade wearing a T-shirt saying “Yes! We won! Now send them back”.

Cllr Durant said: “It [the photo] has been used as part of a co-ordinated smear campaign to blame leave voters for a rise in hate crimes.”

Emma Lake, Recorder news editor said: “The Romford Recorder abides by strict editorial guidelines and is confident the picture published on the front page of our July 1 edition had not been tampered with. This week we have interviewed Peter Bowman, of Hornchurch, who wore the T-shirt about his motivations and his feelings two weeks on.”


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