Priti Patel warns police chiefs they must uphold freedom of speech over David Starkey probe


Priti Patel warns police chiefs they must uphold freedom of speech adding it is the ‘cornerstone of democracy’ after probe into Darren Grimes interview with David Starkey

  • Home Secretary told police chiefs that ‘we must all defend’ freedom of speech  
  • Comments come after Scotland Yard dropped its ‘race hate’ probe into interview
  • David Starkey claimed in controversial interview that ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain’

Priti Patel has warned police chiefs that they must uphold freedom of speech after Scotland Yard dropped a probe into the Darren Grimes interview with David Starkey. 

The Home Secretary added that freedom of speech is a ‘cornerstone of our democracy, and a right that we must all defend’.  

Scotland Yard has dropped its ‘race hate’ probe into journalist Mr Grimes and historian Mr Starkey after ill-judged remarks were made during an interview given at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests.

The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into Mr Grimes, 27, and Dr Starkey, 75, earlier this month for allegedly stirring up racial hatred in a YouTube interview.

Priti Patel has warned police chiefs that they must uphold freedom of speech after Scotland Yard dropped a probe into the Darren Grimes interview with David Starkey

During the hour-long interview on pro-Brexit blogger Mr Grimes’ Reasoned UK channel, author Dr Starkey claimed ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain’.

The pair apologised for the controversial remarks, while Dr Starkey resigned his fellowship from Cambridge University and lost a book deal with HarperCollins.

During the hour-long interview on pro-Brexit blogger Mr Grimes' Reasoned UK channel, author Dr Starkey (pictured) claimed 'slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn't be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain'

During the hour-long interview on pro-Brexit blogger Mr Grimes’ Reasoned UK channel, author Dr Starkey (pictured) claimed ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain’

However, the Met Police’s decision to investigate them under the Public Order Act sparked a freedom of speech backlash from politicians including Home Secretary Priti Patel, Tory backbencher Sajid Javid and former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

Ms Patel added: ‘In recent weeks we have seen public concern over freedom of speech following investigations into comments made by public figures, so I wanted to set out my thoughts on this here today.

‘Freedom of speech is obviously a cornerstone of our democracy, and a right that we must all defend. 

‘Decisions of the police to investigate particular cases are clearly an operational matter which I cannot get involved in and will not comment on.

‘But as a general principle, while it is the job of the police to maintain order, we also look to you to uphold the law, which in this country, has freedom at its heart.

‘Freedom of speech is obviously a cornerstone of our democracy, and a right that we must all defend. Now more so than ever given the debates we are seeing around the coronavirus regulations.’ 

The probe was reviewed by a senior Metropolitan Police officer, and after further legal advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, it was dropped.

Scotland Yard has dropped its 'race hate' probe into Darren Grimes and David Starkey after ill-judged remarks were made during an interview given during the Black Lives Matter protests

Scotland Yard has dropped its ‘race hate’ probe into Darren Grimes and David Starkey after ill-judged remarks were made during an interview given during the Black Lives Matter protests 

In a statement today, Mr Grimes, who was previously investigated for allegedly violating electoral laws during the 2016 EU referendum, said he is 'delighted to be free from months, if not years, of yet more legal drama occupying my life'

In a statement today, Mr Grimes, who was previously investigated for allegedly violating electoral laws during the 2016 EU referendum, said he is ‘delighted to be free from months, if not years, of yet more legal drama occupying my life’

Reacting to the news that the case had been closed, Mr Grimes said his arrest was ‘truly chilling’, while Starkey said its collapse was ‘a personal vindication’ and the investigation ‘should never of course have begun’, adding: ‘From the beginning it was misconceived, oppressive and designed to misuse the criminal law to curtail the proper freedom of expression and debate’. 

Lord Macdonald, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, slammed the ‘sinister and foolish’ decision of the police to investigate the pair, calling it a ‘political stunt’.

Journalists including Douglas Murray, associate editor of The Spectator magazine, and Toby Young of the Free Speech Union also lined up to blast the ‘absurd’ probe. 

Scotland Yard then retreated from its decision to investigate them, announcing that it was reviewing the case to ensure it was ‘proportionate’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk