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Vandals attack restaurant after JK Rowling and friends raised £18,500 for charity and owner was targeted by trans activists on social media with a torrent of hate messages and one-star reviews
- The windows at restaurant Il Portico in west London have been smashed by vandals
- It comes days after sister location Pino’s held a fundraiser hosted by JK Rowling
- Owner James Chiavarini says his restaurants were trolled with one-star ratings
- “The looting of my company happened in the same week as the pile up,” he said
A London restaurateur who defended JK Rowling in an online row with trans activists has shared images after the windows of one of his businesses were broken open.
Last week, Harry Potter author and journalist Suzanne Moore – who have both voiced their gender-critical views – held an event at Pino’s Italian restaurant in Kensington for Ukrainian charity Lumos, raising a total of £18,500.
James Chiavarini, owner of Pino’s and nearby Il Portico, billed as London’s oldest Italian family restaurant, tweeted his thanks for the couple’s habit.
But within days, his restaurants were inundated with one-star web reviews, with one calling his location “an advocate of transphobia” and another stating, “If you’re trans, you’re not welcome here.”
Yesterday morning, Mr. Chiavarini arrived at Il Portico to find that the company’s windows had been broken open.
Businessman James Chiavarini tweeted an image of the damage at his restaurant Il Portico, just a week after JK Rowling ran a fundraiser at his other restaurant Pino’s
James Chiavarini, outside his restaurant Il Portico in Kensington, says his company’s windows were smashed days after a ‘pile’ of trans rights activists
He tweeted: ‘In the same week when online accusations of being homophobic for standing up for JK Rowling and Suzanne Moore, following the fake bad reviews, someone smashed the porch windows and looted the place.
‘Could be a coincidence, of course, but what a few days!’
In subsequent tweets, Mr Chiavarini clarified that the glass had been toughened and smashed from the outside.
He added: ‘The organized pile of extremist TRAs [trans right activists] is really for everyone to see. They have slandered business and my character with false accusations in an attempt at revenge because I am (proudly) behind Suzanne Moore and JK Rowling, both of whom I admire and greatly respect.
‘The looting of my company happened the same week as the pile on it. As things stand now, it is impossible to prove that the two are related.
“I guess I’ll never know for sure. For now there is no hard evidence, just coincidence.’
Mr Chiavarini has been inundated with support over the incident.
Feminist journalist Hadley Freeman wrote: ‘Oh my God, James, this is horrific! I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this!’
Piers Morgan labeled the vandalism ‘disgusting’ and added: ‘This restaurant helped local people in Kensington during the pandemic, including delivering meals to those who needed them most during the lockdown.
“Please go and support it with your habit, to show these vicious bullies that they will never win.”
A source told the Daily Mail: ‘James is absolutely distraught and completely taken by surprise. The matter is now with the police, who are investigating. The restaurant has cameras, so hopefully the culprits will be found.’
James thought he was doing the right thing by organizing an event for such a good cause and is shocked by the backlash.
He also has some regulars from the trans community and would hate to think they could believe there is any truth to these online comments.
His restaurants welcome everyone and always have. To suggest that James is against everything is absolute nonsense.’
Rowling declined to comment on the incident but has pledged to match the fundraising effort for Lumos, which is close to £1million.