Police investigate Darren Grimes over controversial David Starkey interview

10 October 2020, 21:01 | Updated: 10 October 2020, 21:06

Police are investigating Darren Grimes' (L) interview with David Starkey (R)
Police are investigating Darren Grimes' (L) interview with David Starkey (R). Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Police are investigating Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes over his interview with David Starkey in which the historian said slavery was not genocide as there are "so many damn blacks" still around.

The interview was published on 27-year-old Mr Grimes' YouTube channel Reasoned UK after being recorded on 30 June 2020.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "On 4 July, the Metropolitan Police Service was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted on 30 June.

"The matter was reviewed by officers and on 29 July a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service for early investigative advice.

"On 25 September early investigative advice was received and officers began an investigation.

"This will remain under review. No arrests have been made."

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During the interview, 75-year-old Dr Starkey said: "Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn't be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?

"An awful lot of them survived and, again, there's no point in arguing against globalisation or Western civilisation. They are all products of it, we are all products of it.

"The honest teaching of the British Empire is to say, quite simply, it is the first key stage of our globalisation.

"It is probably the most important moment in human history and it is still with us."

In a statement to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Grimes said the police investigation had "serious repercussions for freedom of expression".

He told the paper: "At a time when many in our country are facing uncertainty and financial hardship, I cannot imagine a more contemptible way for the Metropolitan Police to abuse taxpayers' money and the trust of citizens (than) by investigating this vexatious claim."

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Following the major backlash from the interview, Dr Starkey resigned his honorary fellowship at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, while Canterbury Christ Church University terminated his role as visiting professor, calling his comments "completely unacceptable".

Dr Starkey issued a lengthy apology on 6 July, in which he said his "principal regret" was that his "blundering use of language" could endanger people's right to freedom of speech.

Speaking about his use of the phrase "so many damn blacks", he said: "It was intended to emphasise, in hindsight with awful clumsiness, the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade.

"Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse.

"This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory.

"It was a bad mistake. I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused."

Among those to speak out against Dr Starkey's comments was former Chancellor Sajid Javid, who said his remarks were "a reminder of the appalling views that still exist".