Grime artist Wiley dropped by record label over 'anti-semitic' tweets

25 July 2020, 13:34

Wiley has been accused of anti-semitism
Wiley has been accused of anti-semitism. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

Grime artist Wiley has been given a seven-day Twitter ban and was dropped by his management company over accusations of anti-Semitism.

The musician was given an hours-long ban after tweeting a stream of comments on Friday evening, but was back online by Saturday morning.

However, after he resumed tweeting, he was given a seven-day ban from the social media platform.

He also posted an Instagram video in which he said: "crawl out from under your little rocks and defend your Jewish privilege".

Twitter was earlier accused of "ignoring anti-Semitism" as his tweets were still visible 12 hours after they were first posted. However, a number of tweets have now been removed.

A Twitter spokesperson said: "Abuse and harassment have no place on our service and we have policies in place - that apply to everyone, everywhere - that address abuse and harassment, violent threats, and hateful conduct. If we identify accounts that violate any of these rules, we’ll take enforcement action.

"This account has been temporarily locked for violating our Hateful Conduct policy."

His manager John Woolf said A-List Management had "cut all ties" with the musician following the series of social media posts made on accounts belonging to him on Friday.

Police are now investigating the incident.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "We have received a number of reports relating to alleged anti-Semitic tweets posted on social media.

"The Met takes all reports of anti-Semitism extremely seriously. The relevant material is being assessed."Anyone with further information can report it online or via 101 with reference 4219917/20."

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has asked police to investigate the content and called for Wiley's accounts to be shut down "to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom".

Mr Woolf, who is Jewish, wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: "Following Wiley's antisemitic tweets today we at @A_ListMGMT have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism."

He had earlier said he did not support or condone what Wiley posted but that he would speak to him privately and "help educate him".

One post on an unverified Twitter account in Wiley's name, which Mr Woolf confirmed belongs to the star, read: "I would challenge the whole world of Jewish community on my own I am not scared I can handle them."

The social media site has come under fire for allowing the tweets to remain visible.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said: "Just seen all the Wiley stuff. Why on earth have @Twitter left up such blatant antisemitism and hatred? It hits all the dangerous beats, Jews get things you don't get, they are in control, they think their better... This is dangerous stuff. Surely it should come down."

Fellow MP Neil Coyle added: "His management appear able to act quicker than @Twitter emphasising, once again, that legislation (including the Online Harms Bill) should ensure social media platforms are not used to spread hate."

Independent adviser to the government on anti-Semitism, John Mann, said the tweets "demonstrated precisely why the law needs changing to hold them to reasonable account".

This is not the first time the social media site has been accused of "allowing racism to run rampant".

Last week it promoted a viral hashtag which contained numerous anti-Semitic tweets.

Several posts featuring anti-Jewish racism and Holocaust denial were presented to users looking at the hashtag #JewishPrivilege, which trended in the UK earlier in July.

Wiley, known as the Godfather of Grime and whose real name is Richard Cowie, received an MBE for services to music in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "Our Crime Unit has reported this matter to the Metropolitan Police Service as we consider that Wiley has committed the offence of incitement to racial hatred, which can carry a substantial prison sentence.

"We have additionally asked Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, to close down his accounts which have hundreds of thousands of followers, to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom."

They added that they would be contacting the Cabinet Office to ask that Wiley's MBE is revoked.

The spokesperson said: "Wiley has many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and we have seen today that many of them truly believe the unhinged hatred that he is spreading.

"We are treating this as a very serious matter which must be met with the firmest of responses."

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "I cannot understand how it is acceptable for someone with nearly 400 000 followers, who influences impressionable young minds, to continue to spout anti-Semitic hate for 12 hours with no intervention from Twitter or the law.

"This stream of racist anti-Jewish posts hurt to the core. There have to be consequences for this sort of incitement. Instead of using his role as a force for good, this rant suggests this musician does the complete opposite."

The tweets have also been condemned by the Antisemitism Policy Trust, who said the messages "inspire further hatred".

A spokesperson said: "This is now rightly a police matter. The vile abuse and failure by social media companies to act underline the importance of the forthcoming Government Online Harms Bill.

"We took action when we saw the abuse and have been in contact with relevant authorities. It should not be continuously left up to charities and members of the public to deal with this content."