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Primark deems 'cry for help' letters to be a hoax

By Vivian Hendriksz


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Value fashion retailer Primark states that letters found in socks sold at its stores in the UK, which claim to be from forced Chinese slave labours, are part of an elaborate hoax and have nothing to do with its workers or suppliers.

Earlier this month, Lucy Kirk said her father found a letter written in Mandarin in a pair of socks purchased at a Primark store in Huddersfield. After having the letter translated, the letter claimed to be written by a 39 year old man slave worker from the Anhui Province, in China, who said he was falsely accused of fraud and imprisoned. Kirk shared the note on Twitter.

Primark reached out to Kirk to learn more about the nature of the letter, but she revealed to Metro that she was hesitate on sharing too much information with the retailer "I felt if I gave them too much information on the product they would be able to track this and there would be consequences for workers."

Then, earlier this week Shankiel Akbar claims he found a similar letter in a pair of black socks purchased from a Primark store in Newcastle. "It was an SOS from a 39-year-old man living in China. From the words I could translate you could see he was distressed," he said. "It seemed like he was risking a lot to try and get a message out. He said he had endured physical and psychological abuse and that he was forced to make these socks."

A spokesperson from Primark had attributed the letters to be part of an elaborate hoax. "The Primark name is being used to gain publicity for the plight of this individual. We have found no link at all between this individual and any of our suppliers’ factories in China," said the spokesperson. "We think it is likely that the note was added after production and it is feasible it was added in transit or at a port."

It is not the first time Primark has been the target of such a hoax. Last summer saw a numerous shoppers step forward after purchasing clothing with apparent distress labels stitched in, which later turned out to be false.

distress letters