Man 'blacked up' as Minstrel and sang 'racist song' to black colleague at Priory Christmas party, court hears

Jack Hardy
Brian Davies, 62, leaves Cardiff Magistrates' Court (R) and (L) 'blacks up' at Christmas Party

A Christmas party for The Priory rehabilitation clinic saw a man "black up" as a minstrel and sing "Mammy" to a black colleague, a court has heard after he was charged with racial harassment. 

Brian Davies, 62, is alleged to have “singled out” the woman, causing her “alarm, distress and offence”, during his costumed performance at a staff event on December 19.

He had darkened his face to impersonate a character from the Black and White Minstrel Show, which aired on television during the 1960s and 1970s, prosecutors claim.

Cardiff Magistrates' Court heard that Loretta Dayley, a catering manager, became the focus of Davies’s rendition of a minstrel song called “Mammy” at Coopers Carvery in Cardiff.

It is thought the case is among the first to come before a British court involving so-called “blackfacing”, where a non-black performer uses make-up to caricature a black person.

Prosecutor Robert Reid said the Black and White Minstrel show “was part of mainstream culture and entertainment, but we have moved on and social attitudes have changed”.

Video footage of Brian Davies dressed up during a work party

The court was shown a video of Davies’s performance, where his face was visibly darkened.

Miss Dayley said she recognised the tune and knew it "was deemed a racist song".

Davies allegedly insisted Miss Dayley attend the event and - when met with “reluctance” - claimed that he had bought her a "present".

Mr Reid said: "The persistence he displayed on her attending shows that he was intent on focusing this particular prank on her.

"At the Christmas outing he retired briefly before returning, dressed as a black and white minstrel from a television show, and he sang a number of lines from that show, paying attention to Miss Dayley."

Davies was seen in the footage wearing a boater hat, a white shirt, and swinging a cane as he sang at Miss Dayley, who was laughing along with her colleagues.

But Mr Reid said the incident left Miss Dayley "distressed" and that she had been off work for "some time".

Miss Dayley broke down in tears while telling the court via video link how she felt "humiliated" during the stunt.

She said: "Because everyone was laughing I started laughing too. But I was really embarrassed.

"Everyone was roaring with laughter and I just wanted the ground to swallow me up."

Miss Dayley said colleagues were taking photographs and video clips of Mr Davies and some even posed for selfies with him.

The court heard Davies was interviewed by police after Miss Dayley made a complaint and insisted he had no intention of causing her distress. He further denied his behaviour was abusive.

Davies, from Caernarvon Garden, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, pleaded not guilty to using threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour, as well as causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.

The trial continues.