By Madeleine Grisanzio
Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local
Supermarket chain Tesco has stopped production after a young girl found a cry for help inside a Christmas card from the prisoner who made it.
Florence Widdicombe, a six-year-old south London resident, opened the card late last week only to find a plea for help from a prisoner at the Shangai Qingpu Prison. The message read, “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Quigpu Prison China, forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify a human rights organisation.”
A spokesperson for Tesco has announced that the company was “shocked” and would not tolerate prison labor.
Last month, Britain’s largest retailer, Tesco, conducted an investigation into its supplier. No evidence of forced labor was found during that time, and Tesco says they have strict rules against the practice. The company donates nearly 400,000 US dollars to cancer and diabetes research from the profits of these Christmas cards.
The note in the card also asked for the recipient to contact Mr. Peter Humphrey. The father of the girl who had received it searched the internet for this person and found that he was a former journalist. Humphrey had been hired by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to run an investigation firm with his wife, Yu Yingzeng.
Humphrey was previously arrested in China for collecting data illegally. He said that he spent two years in the very same prison the note had come from. Later he claimed he was coerced into confessing in front of the country’s state-run television.
Humphrey got in touch with previous inmates who confirmed that foreign prisoners had been packing cards for Tesco. He believes he knows who is behind the cry for help, but will not release a name to protect the person who wrote it.
Tesco has since suspended the factory where these Christmas cards are made and have launched another investigation into the matter.