Anti-Israel slogan stamped on £5 notes: Bank of England warns campaigners could be prosecuted for defacing currency

  • British £5 banknotes marked with message: 'Free Palestine! Boycott Israel!'
  • Political slogan has angered locals who claim it's inappropriate
  • Bank of England warns defacing currency is illegal and risks prosecution

By Corey Charlton for MailOnline

Campaigners stamping anti-Israel, pro-Palestine messages on bank notes could be prosecuted for defacing currency, the Bank of England has warned.

Banknotes bearing a 'Free Palestine! Boycott Israel!!!' stamp have surfaced in Bolton, Greater Manchester, sparking anger among locals.

The Bank of England says it is illegal to deface currency - but the notes remain legal tender.

But one grandfather, who has been given one of the notes from a shop in Daubhill, was not happy to be handed the defaced £5.

The 67-year-old, who would only identify himself as Bill, said he received the note on Sunday, August 17, after he picked up his paper.

The offending £5 bank note, with the pro-Palestine message stamped on it

The offending £5 bank note, with the pro-Palestine message stamped on it

He did not see the message at first because the note was folded up as it was given to him, but when he noticed it later he became annoyed.

He says he found out it came from the shop after speaking to two other residents in the area who received similar notes.

The production worker said: 'I paid with a £10 note and received the fiver back folded in half, so I didn't realise the stamp at first. But when I took it home there it was plain as day.


'I was livid. It is defacing the Queen's currency. If I wrote "free England, boycott so and so" on our notes I'd be in the police station quicker than I could think.

'It's a political statement on our currency which is out of order. It is premeditated, not just written out of temper. I think whoever is responsible should be taken to task about it.'

The manager of the Willows Lane, Bolton, shop said he wanted to get his political message across to his customers.

The shop boss, who wanted only to be known as Abdul, said: 'It's simply based on what is currently going on at the moment to make people aware about what cause they need to be supporting.

'What Israel is doing is wrong, and we need to boycott them and support Palestine. Putting a little stamp on the notes is our way of raising awareness and getting the message across using a political message.

'Some people have come in and asked what it's about, and some have realised that it is a good thing. Others don't understand it, but there hasn't been too much negativity.'

A shop customer pictured with one of the stamped bank notes which have angered locals

A shop customer pictured with one of the stamped bank notes which have angered locals

The Bank of England - which issues the country's bank notes - confirmed it was illegal to deface currency - but stressed they were still legal tender even if they had been stamped.

A spokesman for the Bank of England said: 'Defacing bank notes is definitely not something we would recommend but whether or not there would be a prosecution would be up to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine if it was in the public interest.

'We would advise people not to do it because one of the really important things is maintaining confidence in our currency and people being able to spot counterfeit money.

'The notes are legal tender but they would probably be taken out of circulation when they entered our processing plants.'

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