Toilet handle thieves drive TV chef Oliver around the bend

TELEVISION chef Jamie Oliver has complained that diners at his restaurants have developed a taste for items that are off the menu – linen napkins and toilet flush handles.

He said that thousands of napkins go missing every month at his chain of eateries and he had been forced to weld the handles on to his toilets. Mr Oliver, whose business empire is worth £150m and has restaurants in Leeds and York, linked the thefts to the recession.

He said: “Thankfully, we’re ridiculously busy. But I have noticed things in this recession. Like people nicking the linen napkins from our restaurants. We now lose about 30,000 a month.

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“And there’s another thing: every restaurant of mine has the old-fashioned Thomas Crapper toilets because I’ve always thought they look wicked. But they’re really expensive and we’ve had to have the handles and flushers welded on because people were unscrewing them and nicking them. Honestly, some people were coming out for a meal and going home with half a toilet. Bonkers!”

The star, 37, also condemned Government ministers, saying that he had “given up” on them.

Oliver, who has campaigned for better school meals, told reporters: “I’ve met Government and Education Secretaries and I’m just so bored and underwhelmed by them.

“And every year when I’m doing my tax return and putting that figure in the box at the bottom, I can’t help thinking: ‘I wouldn’t give it to them. I wouldn’t even employ them.’

“So I’ve sort of given up on them, really. All I do now is say how I feel and that’s it. I’m just concentrating on work.”