Charity ‘racist’ T-shirt mistake

Andy Linehan
Andy Linehan
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The founder of a military charity has admitted stocking racist and anti-Muslim T-shirts in a Blackpool shop, but insisted it was a costly mistake.

Andy Linihan and store volunteers were filmed by an undercover crew laughing and joking about the highly offensive clothing and badges at the 1st Knight Charity shop in St Annes Road, South Shore.

Today he tried to brush off the sale of the items, insisting what was heard on the BBC Scotland documentary – including references to shooting suicide bombers – was ‘forces banter’.

Mr Linihan denied he or the charity, which organises respite trips for former service men, was racist or had an anti-Islamic agenda and told The Gazette he had been on the receiving end of threatening phone calls since the broadcast.

He said: “This has been a nightmare for us.

“It is a mistake.

“These products should never have been on sale online or in the shop and they have all been withdrawn.

“ You cannot buy one from us.

“We are not proud of what happened.

“We never sold many of these items and you can find them in other places in the town.”

Former soldier Mr Linihan apologised for what had been shown in the broadcast.

He said: “We are not an extreme organisation.

“We are a charity which supports soliders with post traumatic stress and other conditions.

“They didn’t show the good work we do.

“Some of the people filmed in the shop were veterans who are struggling with PTSD.

“What they said was banter between soldiers.

“But it is not acceptable. The bottom line is that once it’s been said it can’t be taken back.

“All I can do is apologise.”

Mr Linihan denied the charity had ever stocked clothing with Nazi or neo-Nazi logos or slogans.

The Charity Commission has begun an investigation into 1st Knight.

In 2015 the charity, which was founded in 2014, had an income of just over £10,000.