Brexiteer Darren Grimes faces police probe over racism allegation

Pro-Brexit pundit Darren Grimes is probed by police over ‘racist’ YouTube interview with historian David Starkey where he used the phrase ‘damn blacks’

  • Brexiteer Darren Grimes, 27, will be questioned under caution by police
  • He interviewed historian David Starkey on a YouTube channel on June 30 
  • During the interview, Starkey claimed slavery was not genocide in Africa 
  • Professor Starkey resigned several roles following the YouTube interview  

A prominent Brexiteer on whose YouTube channel historian David Starkey used the phrase ‘damn blacks’ is being investigated by police on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred.

Darren Grimes, 27, is to be interviewed under caution at a police station. The investigation comes after his interview with Dr Starkey on the Reasoned UK YouTube channel on June 30, at the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests.

The 75-year-old historian provoked widespread fury with his comment: ‘Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?’

Brexiteer Darren Grimes, pictured, is to be questioned under caution by the Metropolitan Police over an interview he conducted on a YouTube channel

Grimes interviewed Prof David Starkey, pictured, who later apologised for the offence caused by his remarks on the YouTube channel 

In the ensuing furore, he resigned from his fellowship at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and lost a book deal with HarperCollins. Dr Starkey later said his remark was a ‘bad mistake’, adding: ‘I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused.’

Mr Grimes – a conservative pundit who came to prominence as a pro-Brexit campaigner – also issued an apology, saying he should have ‘robustly questioned’ the historian about the comments. Now he is accused of the public order offence of stirring up racial hatred. The maximum penalty is seven years in prison.

It is understood that Dr Starkey has not been contacted by police.

Reacting to the investigation, Mr Grimes said: ‘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 the vexatious claim.’

He added that the threat of arrest if he does not attend the ‘voluntary’ interview has ‘serious repercussions for freedom of expression’.

The Free Speech Union said the accusation against Mr Grimes is ‘absurd’. Toby Young, its general secretary, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The only hatred Dr Starkey stirred up was against himself.’

He said Mr Grimes would never have apologised ‘if he had intended to stir up racial hatred in the course of a broadcast only days earlier’. Mr Young asked if journalists would now face police action over the comments made by those they were interviewing. Such action would have ‘a chilling effect on free speech’.

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.

The Met investigation comes after a complaint was made to Durham Police. Mr Grimes lives in London.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘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.’

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