The Metropolitan Police (MET) on Wednesday said they were ending the hate crime investigation against Historian David Starkey and Broadcaster Darren Grimes. The investigation was put under review “to ensure it remains proportionate” on Oct. 12, after it attracted criticisms saying it curtails freedom of speech.
MET Commander Paul Brogden said on Wednesday that after revision, the MET had concluded that the investigation was no longer proportionate.
“It is the duty of police to assess and, if appropriate, fully investigate alleged offences and the public would expect us to investigate an allegation of this nature,” Brogden said.
“We conducted initial inquiries to establish the full circumstances and sought early advice from the CPS. Having had the opportunity to review this, it is no longer proportionate that this investigation continues.
He said the MET had “made direct contact with the individuals involved and updated them on this decision.”
Starkey said in response that the investigation should never have begun.
“From the beginning it was misconceived, oppressive, and designed to misuse the criminal law to curtail the proper freedom of expression and debate,” the BBC quoted. “This freedom is our birthright, and it is more important than ever at this critical juncture in our nation’s history.”
Grimes responded on Twitter, saying he was “delighted” with the “good news,” and thanked those who supported him.
“I’d like to thank all of you for your support, especially those who dislike my politics but recognised the dangerous precedent this case set,” his tweet reads.
“I’d especially like to thank @SpeechUnion and @LukeSGittos1986 for their tireless work in seeking to defend freedom of expression,” he added.
Grimes said that he would continue to seek answers on how the investigation was allowed to begin in what he described as an “unprecedented use of the Public Order Act to regulate speech & debate,” and that he would “campaign to ensure the precedent the police have set with this investigation doesn’t put free expression at risk.”
I will still seek the CPS advice that justified the wasting of police resources, time and taxpayer money on investigating the vexatious charge that I “stirred up” racial hatred in the first place and the unprecedented use of the Public Order Act to regulate speech & debate. (3/4)
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) October 21, 2020
Starkey and Grimes were reported and investigated for “stirring up racial hatred” after Starkey made a comment on June 30 on Grimes’ YouTube show “Reasoned.”
During a heated discussion about “the scholarship behind the laudable slogan of Black Lives Matter, compared to the movement seeking to delegitimate [sic] British history,” the historian said “slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain.”
Both have since apologised, Starkey for the “deplorably inflammatory” words he used, and Grimes for failing to challenge the comment.