Sir Keir Starmer refuses to criticise Met Police over ‘race hate’ probe into journalist Darren Grimes – who slams investigation as a ‘waste of time with terrifying consequences’ for press freedom
- Mr Starmer said ‘When people go over the line it’s right that it’s investigated’
- Scotland Yard vowed to continue its investigation into Darren Grimes yesterday
- Mr Grimes allegedly stirred up racial hatred in an interview with David Starkey
- Dr Starkey said ‘slavery was not genocide’ in the interview shared on YouTube
Labour leader Keir Starmer today refused to condemn the police investigation of a Brexit blogger – despite a freedom of speech backlash.
It came after Scotland Yard refused to back down amid fury from politicians and free speech campaigners at the decision to probe Darren Grimes for allegedly stirring up racial hatred in an interview with historian David Starkey.
During the interview, shared on Mr Grimes’s YouTube channel, Dr Starkey said ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?’
And speaking on LBC this morning, Mr Starmer said he believed the authorities had to look at people who crossed lines.
He said: ‘I think it does sometimes have to involve the police.
‘There has got to be a level of tolerance of course, but there is a line which can be crossed, and it’s very important that it is investigated, and in some cases prosecutions.
“When people go over the line it’s right that it’s investigated.’
Scotland Yard is continuing to investigate Darren Grimes (pictured) for allegedly stirring up racial hatred in an interview with David Starkey despite fury from politicians
Sir Keir Starmer would not criticise the police over the investigation into Mr Grimes
Darren Grimes posted on social media this morning his interview was on Friday
The incendiary remark on the YouTube interview led to a police investigation of Dr Starkey, 75.
But it has now emerged that Mr Grimes has also been asked to attend a police interview under caution to respond to accusations of stirring up racial hatred, an offence which carries a potential penalty of seven years in prison.
The 27-year-old Tory blogger, who came to prominence as a pro-Brexit campaigner, admitted he should have ‘robustly questioned’ the historian about his comments, but said the decision to investigate him raises ‘serious repercussions for freedom of expression’.
Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday tweeted: ‘Decisions of the police to investigate particular cases are clearly an operational matter… but as a general principle, it’s important the law protects freedom of speech.’
Historian David Starkey (above) said ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain’ on Mr Grimes’s Reasoned UK YouTube channel
The case will be raised at the Commons home affairs committee this week by Conservative MP Tim Loughton, who said Met Commissioner Cressida Dick should be questioned over a ‘vexatious investigation’.
Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: ‘Grimes is not responsible for Starkey’s appalling comments. In a free society, we surely don’t do things like this?’ The Free Speech Union labelled the investigation as ‘absurd’.
Dr Starkey made the comments on Mr Grimes’s Reasoned UK YouTube channel on June 30 – at the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests. He later apologised for his ‘bad mistake’.
Mr Grimes, who founded pro-Brexit group BeLeave during the 2016 referendum, yesterday called for a change in hate crime laws to protect journalists.
He added that in a ‘free and democratic’ society, journalists must have the freedom to ‘interview a wide range of people, including those likely to make controversial remarks’.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said yesterday that its statement confirming the investigation remained unchanged.
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