ERI worker facing sack over golliwog keyrings

The golliwog keyrings were 'meant as a harmless joke'. Picture: contributed

The golliwog keyrings were 'meant as a harmless joke'. Picture: contributed

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A HOSPITAL porter faces the sack after giving his black colleagues golliwog keyrings he brought back from holiday.

Andrew Nimmo, who works at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, thought it was a “harmless joke” to dish out fobs shaped like the dolls, which many people consider offensive.

Andrew Nimmo works as a porter at the ERI. Picture: TSPL

Andrew Nimmo works as a porter at the ERI. Picture: TSPL

But an internal inquiry has been sparked after a complaint was lodged with health chiefs.

Now the 52-year-old has been suspended and is on the verge of losing his job.

A source said: “Andy bought the keyrings during a break in Blackpool. He gave them to his co-workers and they saw the funny side. It was just meant as a heartless joke.

“But someone else took offence and complained to the bosses.

“He’s from a mixed race family himself and hates racism. He has just been a bit naive.”

Nimmo, from Prestonfield, was called to a meeting and told he was being suspended pending a grievance case.

The source added: “He’s had support from other workers, who knew it wasn’t meant with any malice. “He is annoyed because whoever complained didn’t say anything straight to him, they just went straight to the bosses.”

NHS Lothian’s human resources director Alan Boyter said: “We can confirm a staff member has been suspended from duty. We take any allegations of racism seriously. As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Nimmo, who lives with partner Pauline Barker, 54, a nurse at the same hospital, said last night: “I can’t comment as there’s an investigation.”

Last week, police investigated a potential “hate incident” following complaints about a mural featuring a golliwog at Wardie Primary. The scene had been restored with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The nine-panel mural, which also features the children’s character Alice in Wonderland, has been displayed in the school hall for 77 years.

A local mum claimed it was “racist and offensive’”, but the investigation was dropped after police were told teachers would use the controversial image to educate pupils.

Edinburgh City Council confirmed the mural, painted by the respected Fife-born artist RH Westwater and recently restored at a cost of £17,600, will not be altered.

In 2008, the Duchess of Cornwall sparked controversy after carrying a handbag with a golliwog key ring attached.

The golliwog, a black character in children’s books in the late 19th century – usually depicted as a type of rag doll – enjoyed great popularity in to the 1970s.

But while some see the golliwog as a cherished childhood toy, others say the dolls are racist.