Scotland Yard DROP probe into Darren Grimes and David Starkey
Scotland Yard DROP ‘race hate’ probe into Darren Grimes and David Starkey after historian sparked fury over ‘damn blacks’ comment in YouTube interview
- Met Police was investigating Darren Grimes for allegedly stirring up racial hatred
- Grimes, 27, shared an interview with historian David Starkey on YouTube in June
- Starkey caused public fury with a ‘damn blacks’ remark at height of BLM protests
- Scotland Yard sparked freedom of speech backlash by investigating them
- Today they wrote to Grimes and Starkey saying the probe has been dropped
Scotland Yard has dropped its ‘race hate’ probe into journalist Darren Grimes and historian David 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.
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.
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.
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’.
Today, the Met Police wrote to Mr Grimes and Dr Starkey to confirm that they are no longer being probed ‘following an initial investigation and CPS advice’.
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’.
He blasted the ‘unprecedented use of the Public Order Act to regulate speech and debate’, calling the probe ‘vexatious’ and ‘truly chilling indeed’.
Scotland Yard has dropped its ‘race hate’ probe into journalist Darren Grimes after historian David Starkey made ill-judged remarks during an interview given at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests
During the hour-long interview on 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’
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’
MailOnline can now reveal that the controversial investigation into Mr Grimes and Dr Starkey was conducted by a unit whose new commander has only been in the Metropolitan Police force for the last six years.
It has also emerged that Met Commissioner Cressida Dick was only made aware of the probe after the furore blew up in the media on October 9.
The Met Police’s South-West Basic Command Unit (BCU) – led by Chief Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple – was pursuing Mr Grimes for allegedly stirring up racial hatred in an interview with Dr Starkey.
Chief Supt Chapple joined Scotland Yard as an entry level superintendent in November 2014, having previously held down roles in Human Resources across the banking and finance sector.
She was head of HR for the People Delivery Team at Santander before joining the Met. Prior to that she had a 13-year career working for banking giant KPMG.
On joining the Met, Chief Supt Chapple became the force’s spokeswoman for the Notting Hill Carnival, announcing knife arches at the event in 2018 and warning officers not to dance with revellers last year.
She took over running the London South West BCU, which has 1,300 officers working the boroughs of Wandsworth, Kingston-upon-Thames, Merton and Richmond, from Chief Supt Sally Benatar who retired after 39-years with the force at the start of September.
The investigation into Mr Grimes was launched at the end of September – a few weeks after Chief Superintendent Chapple had taken over.
The Met has said it was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted on June 30.
Sources within the force have expressed surprise that the Met Commissioner was not given prior notice of this investigation taking place with one saying: ‘To not have been personally briefed on an investigation which was obviously going to put the force under fire I find hard to believe. She must have been briefed and not only that given her full approval for it to go ahead.’
However a Scotland Yard insider revealed: ‘All the evidence points to the Commissioner not knowing until when the story first blew up.
‘The Met is a huge force with thousands of investigation taking place, it would impossible for her to be briefed on every one of them.’
The pair apologised for the controversial remarks, while Dr Starkey (left) resigned his fellowship from Cambridge University and lost a book deal with HarperCollins
MailOnline can now reveal that Met Commissioner Cressida Dick was only made aware of the probe after the furore blew up in the media on October 9
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’
However, the Met Police have come under fire for its decision to investigate Grimes, with Tory backbencher Sajid Javid calling the decision ‘plainly absurd’
Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for Mansfield, angrily tweeted: ‘God save the world when people being offended makes something a criminal offence!!’
Douglas Murray, author and editor of The Spectator magazine, said: 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 @metpolice uk’
In a statement released today, Mr Grimes said: ‘The fact that it was allowed to reach this point, the fact that a precedent has been set that says that a broadcaster or journalist can face police arrest and a maximum of seven years prison time for interviewing a controversial guest is truly chilling indeed.
‘I will still seek the CPS advice that justified the wasting of police resources, time and taxpayers 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 and debate.’
Mr Young of the Free Speech Union said: ‘I’m delighted for Darren Grimes and David Starkey, but things might have turned out very differently if they hadn’t been members of the Free Speech Union.
‘The police and the CPS need to stop abusing the law to try and regulate speech and debate. It’s not their job to investigate thought crimes.’
Responding to the news today, Baroness Fox tweeted: ‘Sweet victory. For once a victory for free speech, press freedom and common sense.
‘And it couldn’t have happened without a genuine public outcry as well as support of the Free Speech Union. Very pleased for you Darren Grimes, but even more pleased for all of us and the cause of liberty.’
If they had been charged and convicted, Mr Grimes and Dr Starkey could have been jailed for a maximum of seven years under the Public Order offence.
A spokesman for the Met Police said: ‘On Saturday, 4 July the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted on Tuesday, 30 June.
‘An investigation commenced and as part of that investigation on Wednesday, 29 July a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for early investigative advice. Following receipt of the advice two voluntary interviews under caution were scheduled.
During the interview on Mr Grimes’ Reasoned UK channel, Dr Starkey claimed ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain’
Scotland Yard has dropped its ‘race hate’ probe into Mr Grimes and Dr Starkey after ill-judged remarks were made during an interview given at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests
‘On Monday, 12 October a senior officer was appointed to conduct a review of the investigation to ensure it remained proportionate and that all appropriate lines of inquiry had been considered. Whilst this process took place, the two scheduled interviews were postponed.
‘On Wednesday, 21 October following an extensive review and further advice from the CPS, the decision was made to close the investigation and take no further action.’
Commander Paul Brogden, Frontline Policing, said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘We have made direct contact with the individuals involved and updated them on this decision.’
Mr Grimes founded BeLeave, a pro-Brexit group aimed at younger voters during the 2016 referendum campaign.
Last year he succeeded in overturning a £20,000 fine handed out by the Electoral Commission over spending offences. He was also the deputy editor of political website BrexitCentral until 2018.
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