The note, suspected to be a hoax, was hidden in a pair of socks

The note, suspected to be a hoax, was hidden in a pair of socks

Value fashion retailer Primark says a note found in its clothing – supposedly from a Chinese garment worker enduring "physical and psychological abuse" – is a hoax.

The UK apparel group said it was likely Primark's name was being used to gain publicity for the plight of the individual who claims he was "falsely accused and set up for fraud and blackmail", and is presently "forcefully detained" at Lingbi County detention centre in Anhui Province, China. 

"My body and mind have been subjected to extreme torture and damage," the letter claims, urging the finder to pass it to President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, or "expose" it through the media. 

The letter written in Mandarin, purported to be from a man called Ding Tingkun from Anhui Province, was found hidden in a pair of black socks purchased from Primark's Metrocentre store in Newcastle.

A spokesperson for Primark, however, said: "We have found no link at all between this individual and any of our suppliers' factories in China. 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."

The discovery is one of a number placing Primark in the spotlight over "worker abuses" in the last year. 

Last week, another Primark customer also reportedly claimed her father had found a similar note in a pair of socks purchased from a store in Huddersfield, allegedly written by a 39-year-old prisoner called Ting Kun Ding from Anhui Province. 

And, last year, a detailed investigation carried out by the retail group into three cases in which a hand-embroidered label was found sewn into its products, found them to be a hoax, Primark said. The garments carrying the labels were bought from Primark's Swansea store in 2013. 

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In a separate incident reported by Amnesty International in June 2014, a shopper in Northern Ireland claimed to have found a note from a Chinese prisoner in a pair of Primark trousers bought three years before. 

Primark has always insisted it has a strict code of ethics, and "investigates all allegations of breaches of its Code of Conduct immediately to ensure the well-being of workers in its supply chain".

Primark's Code of Conduct sets out the core principles that suppliers must follow to ensure products are made in good working conditions and that the people making them are treated decently and are paid a fair wage. 

The retailer is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and its Code is based on the ETI Base Code. Furthermore, it says it has a team of 45 people who inspect each factory, and that around 2,058 inspections were carried out in 2013 alone. 

Primark was one of the companies sourcing from New Wave Bottoms, a supplier based in the Bangladeshi Rana Plaza building that collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people in 2013. The retailer was one of the first to commit to compensation payments in the aftermath of the disaster, and was the first UK retailer to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

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