A SEAFRONT trader has criticised members of the public for rounding on foreign tourists and accusing them of being paedophiles.

Police were called to Marine Parade on Friday afternoon to reports members of the public had confronted and detained three Greek tourists who were taking photos of the seafront – because children happened to be in their line of vision.

Officers found no offences had been committed but Martin Richardson of the Happidrome arcade said he was disgusted customers kept asking him about a “paedophile ring being smashed on Southend seafront.”

A Facebook post by one of the women making the allegations has now been shared almost 13,000 times and features photographs of all three men – as well as describing how another woman took one of the men’s mobile phones during the confrontation.

Mr Richardson said: “It’s detrimental to the seafront because people have now got it in their heads there are paedophiles lurking around the seafront when these tourists, who were all teachers, were only taking pictures of the fountains so they could suggest something similar back home.

“But some stupid girl decided she’d ‘smashed a paedophile ring’ on Southend seafront and it’s been shared about 13,000 times on Facebook.

“I had three people come into my shop asking about it but these poor people were just unaware of the English ‘etiquette’ that if you take pictures of children you’re suddenly a paedophile – as though paedophiles come down to the seafront in plain sight wearing cameras with big lenses on.

“We are a tourist destination – we openly welcome people to come here and visit and look at the unique features we have here. We don’t need people scaring them off with silly things like that.”

A police spokesman reassured members of the public no offence had been committed.

She said: “Police attended Marine Parade shortly before 4pm on Friday, April 8, following reports that three men had been detained by members of the public who were concerned about photographs being taken.

“The photographs were reviewed by officers who found no offences had been committed. The photos were of the general seafront area.”