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Reform UK leader Tice targets 'Turkish barbershops', claiming money laundering

Reform UK leader Richard Tice sounds alarm about shops in affluent areas of UK and raises fears of money laundering
Richard Tice's Reform UK currently polls at around 10 percent but is not expected to win a parliamentary seat (AFP/Daniel Leal)
Richard Tice's Reform UK currently polls at around 10 percent but is not expected to win a parliamentary seat (AFP/Daniel Leal)

The leader of the right-wing Reform UK party has called for a crackdown on cash-only barber shops, which brand themselves as "Turkish".

Richard Tice claimed, offering no evidence, that such shops were fronts to launder proceeds from the drug trade in a series of posts on social media platform X.

“Police & Local Authorities do nothing: unaware & incompetent or aware & corrupt… or just scared”, Tice wrote in a post late on Wednesday.

In an earlier post, responding to a complaint about “Turkish” barbers bringing “down the tone of an area terribly”, Tice said that they were “opening all over [the] country”, adding “many fear these are fronts for money laundering drug profits”.

Turkish barber shops have become a common sight in towns and cities across the UK in recent years. Their popularity stems from the reputed skill of Turkish barbers in many complicated hairstyles, such as skin fades.

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A traditional Turkish barber also provides extra services, such as a head massage and singeing - the use of a naked flame to burn off excess ear hair.

But critics of the apparent surge in “Turkish” barbers say that the newer offerings are less interested in providing such services and are instead focused on tax dodging or money laundering, an accusation that remains unproven.

‘Level playing field’

Reporting on Tice’s comments, The Telegraph spoke to Caroline Larissey, the chief executive of the National Hair and Beauty Federation, who did not name Turkish barbers specifically, but said some in her industry were struggling against unfair competition.

“Barbershops are the fastest-growing industry within our sector, and you only have to go on to the high street to see the number of different barbershops that are there," she said.

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“And that’s great for our industry so long as they’re all legal and playing a level playing field.”

Reform UK is currently contesting the UK general election, set for 4 July, and polling at around 10 percent.

Despite those numbers it is unlikely to win any seats in parliament, due to the country’s “first past the post” voting system.

It is nevertheless influential in determining the political direction of the ruling Conservative Party, with whom it competes for voters.

The party’s platform is largely centred on the issue of immigration and its members often find themselves accused of targeting the UK’s Muslim population.

Earlier this week, Brexit campaigner and Reform UK honorary president Nigel Farage accused young Muslims of hating British values.

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