Parents hit back at angry traders

EDL protest march on Blackpool Promenade.
EDL protest march on Blackpool Promenade.

THE parents of missing Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes have hit back at traders who claimed a controversial protest lost them thousands of pounds in business.

Karen and Robert Downes, whose 14-year-old daughter Charlene has not been seen since November 2003, say they were disgusted by comments from traders who suffered a loss of earnings during the English Defence League protest.

Mrs Downes, of Boothley Road, North Shore, said: “These traders should show more respect for Charlene. They complain about loss of earnings but our loss is priceless. We’ve lost a lifetime of not seeing Charlene.

“They disgust us. Obviously money is more important to them than people.

“These traders should be ashamed of themselves. If they were anything decent they would be supportive towards the cause and understand why the rally took place.”

Up to 2,000 members of the EDL gathered on Blackpool Promenade on Saturday May 28 to protest over the police handling into the disappearance of the teenager.

Unite Against Fascism also held a rally near Central Pier.

Traders reported a “very slow” day on what should have been one of the busiest Bank Holiday weekends of the year.

One shop assistant on South Promenade said: “We’ve made a loss today. People have been scared to come out to this end. We rely on holiday trade, it’s our lifeline.”

The former St George’s High School pupil has not been seen since she kissed her mother Karen goodbye at a bus stop in central Blackpool.

The fast food outlet Mr Beanz, formerly Funny Boyz, became the centre of a massive police investigation into her disappearance. Iyad Albattikhi and his business partner Mohammed Reveshi were charged with the 13 year old’s murder and disposing of the body.

But both were later cleared at Preston Crown Court and awarded a reported compensation sum of £300,000 each for false imprisonment.

Police maintain the inquiry into Charlene’s disappearance remains open.

Mrs Downes added: “The EDL and Casual United will not stop protesting until the police do what is expected of them with a new investigation and until justice is finally done.

“We’d like people to know what it’s like just to live one day knowing the pain and heartache we endure.”