Tesco halts Christmas card factory after China inmate message

Tesco said they would permanently de-list the supplier if evidence points out that supplier uses prison labor. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 December 2019

Tesco halts Christmas card factory after China inmate message

  • Tesco said they would not allow prison labor in their supply chain
  • The note encouraged the reader to seek “Mr Peter Humphrey”

LONDON: Supermarket giant Tesco said Sunday it has stopped production at a factory in China after one of its Christmas cards was found to contain a cry for help from a prisoner who made it.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that a girl in south London had opened a card last weekend to find a message inside claiming to be from inmates at Shanghai’s Qingpu Prison.
“We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China,” said the message, in a Tesco charity card featuring a kitten in a Santa hat.
“Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.”
A spokeswoman for Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, said it was “shocked” at the news and had “immediately halted production at the factory where these cards are produced.”
“We would never allow prison labor in our supply chain,” she said, adding that an investigation had now been launched.
She said the company had a “comprehensive auditing system in place.”
“This supplier was independently audited as recently as last month and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken our rule banning the use of prison labor,” she said.
“If evidence is found we will permanently de-list the supplier.”
According to the Sunday Times, the note in the card — sold to raise money for charity — asked whoever received it to contact “Mr Peter Humphrey.”
The girl’s father searched for Humphrey online and discovered that he was a former journalist who had spent nine months in Qingpu.
He got in touch with Humphrey, who contacted some other ex-prisoners, who confirmed that foreign inmates had been backing cards for Tesco.
Humphrey then wrote up the story for The Times.
Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng, a naturalized US citizen, ran an investigative firm hired by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Arrested in 2013 on suspicion of illegally obtaining private data, he confessed on Chinese state TV but later claimed he was forced to.
He and his wife were convicted in August 2014 and deported the following June.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.