MPs and public figures show their support for Darren Grimes as the Met Police begin their investigation after Dr David Starkey interview.
Darren Grimes is a British broadcaster and journalist from County Durham. Grimes is currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police after he interviewed TV historian Dr David Starkey in June this year.
During the interview, Darren Grimes asked Starkey about the Black Lives Matter movement, who responded by saying: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?”
Dr Starkey later said his comment was a “bad mistake”, adding: “I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused.”
Grimes, 27, has also issued an apology saying he should have “robustly questioned” the historian regarding the comments. He is now being investigated under the Public Order Act for stirring up racial hatred, for which the maximum penalty is seven years in prison. It is understood that Dr Starkey has not been contacted by police.
Many MPs have overwhelmingly defended Grimes, including former Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who called the Met’s decision “plainly absurd”.
Mr Javid tweeted: “David Starkey’s comments were appalling. But, the idea that it’s appropriate to go after journalists for the remarks of their interviewees is plainly absurd. For the sake of our cherished free press, I hope @metpoliceuk reconsider.”
Tim Farron, the former Lib Dem leader, added: “There might be more than meets the eye here, but on the face of it, this is completely ridiculous. Grimes is not responsible for Starkey’s appalling comments. In a free society, we surely don’t do things like this?”
Douglas Murray also showed his support, saying: “This is not the behaviour of a police force in a free society. Hauling someone into a police station for something someone said to them in an interview? Shame on the @metpoliceuk.”
The Freedom Association accused the Met Police of “undermining” the rule of law, adding: ‘Free speech matters. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Darren Grimes.”
However, Karl Turner, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull East and the Shadow Minister for Legal Aid, refused to condemn the Met Police decision, saying: “Freedom of speech Darren doesn’t afford people the freedom to make racist remarks or generally offend.”
He has since deleted this tweet.
The Met investigation comes after a complaint was made to Durham Police. Mr Grimes lives in London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman stated: “On July 4, the Metropolitan Police Service was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted on June 30. The matter is being investigated. No arrests.”
Darren Grimes tweeted a video expressing his opinion on the matter, below:
The Metropolitan Police has threatened an unprecedented use of Public Order legislation to target me and my channel @ReasonedUK. It should concern anyone that believes in freedom of the press. @SpeechUnion pic.twitter.com/0Pe4Ci0PSN
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) October 9, 2020